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2015 was a great year for Kendrick Lamar. The Compton emcee was nominated 11 times for his sophomore album To Pimp A Butterfly, and based on how well the LP is received, he’s probably going to win most (if not all) of them too. Many publications (including us) listed out his album as being the best of the year, and it’s not only the journalists that are determining it, music fans are saying the same thing. To top that off, President Obama reveals that K-Dot’s “How Much a Dollar Cost” is his favorite song of the year. What a cosign, what a year.
With that much critical acclaim, it’s safe to say that many would call Kendrick not only their favorite rapper, but their favorite artist as well. He appears so far ahead of the game that it’s hard to even imagine how or why he would even look up to any other emcee right now. However, being the humble, music-appreciating character that he is, Kendrick is not hesitant to give other artists their props and recognition if they deliver good work. What’s also remarkable is that even though Lamar makes so-called “conscious” or “sophisticated” music with heavy social and political themes, he’s able to step out of the box people put him in and appreciate music that is very different from his.
Back in 2012 in an interview with WILD 94.9′s, the host Ness Nitty asked Kendrick who his top five rappers of all time were, dead or alive. His gave pretty much the most typical answer: 2pac, The Notorious B.I.G., JAY Z, Nas and Eminem. We’re not saying his list isn’t valid, it just isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. Over the next few years, we’ve seen hip-hop take new forms and it seems like the TPAB mastermind is also broadening his tastes. Last year, Kendrick was asked several times who his favorite new artists were and his replies couldn’t have veered farther from the 2012 list. Will he give a different answer for his top five list if asked again today? We don’t know, but it’s definitely refreshing to hear about his year’s favorite artists.
In a recent interview with New York Times, the publication asked Kendrick what his favorite music of the year was. He didn’t hesitate to exclaim that “Future killed it” and complimented on the DS2 artist’s crazy work ethic and energy. Almost as if he knew he was going to get some flak from the hip-hop purists, he quickly made a comparison to that of James Brown, explaining that even if the godfather of soul “mumbles all day,” the listener was able to feel his soul and energy on the record, just like one would with Future’s. He says that the Freebandz honcho delivers an original vibe and it makes him feel good when he listens to it; it’s the imposters that water it down and give the sound and style a bad name.
In the very same interview, he also said that Drake smashed and made some of his favorite rap music of 2015. Kendrick probably grouped them together because he was probably really feeling their chemistry on What A Time To Be Alive. For a few years now, Kendrick and Drake have been regarded as the top two rappers and there has always been a friendly competition between them. There’s even an ongoing rumor that Kendrick had thrown subliminals at Drizzy in songs on both TPAB and Dr. Dre’s Compton: The Soundtrack. Right now we’re not trying to reignite or promote a feud that we’re not certain about but it’s definitely a great thing to see Kendrick giving props to where it’s due — the 6 God put out some of the most memorable releases this year regardless of if they’re in competition or not.
Any Kendrick Lamar fan would know that the rapper is very inactive on social media. However, every time the guy decides to speak his mind, it’s always something to remember. During a very rare Q&A hosted by Lamar via his Twitter, a fan asked him who his favorite artist in the game is right now. Kendrick replied with “Earl Sweatshirt” and did not bother to elaborate on it. This happened after the Odd Future rapper dropped his critically acclaimed sophomore album I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside and it’s safe to assume that Kendrick really liked the tape. In an interview published shortly after, Earl expresses how grateful and appreciative he is of Kendrick for playing the position of a deep-yet-easily-accessible rapper so that Earl can do the weird and mysterious stuff.
In an interview with BBC Radio 1Xtra back in the summer, Kendrick Lamar gave another interesting cosign. He proclaimed that English rapper, musician, actress and singer Little Simz “might be the illest doing it right now.” 2015 was a year where America really started to recognize UK rap and grime, partially thanks to Kanye West, Drake and A$AP Rocky for collaborating with and putting on artists like Skepta. Kendrick’s not the first big American rapper to appreciate her talent either; Simz has also received support from other heavyweights like Andre 3000 and J. Cole