The thing about Kendrick Lamar that makes him great is actually very similar to what made the late great Notorious B.I.G. great; he’s not the clear cut best at anything, but he’s in the conversation of the best of every aspect of the emcee craft.

Is he Rakim, Nas, or Black Thought lyrically? No, but he’s damn close. Close enough damnit. Delivery wise, Big, Jay, Meth, Pac, 3000… he’s right there. Not ahead necessarily, but there… right there…

Storytelling wise he’s on par with Slick Rick, Scarface, Biggie, Ice Cube, Nas, GFK… How Much A Dollar Cost? Now Duckworth??? Whoa… that’s rare air right there. Duckworth is 89′ Rick the Ruler, its 96′ what’s left of Nasty Nas on It Was Written…. Damn…

Song Concepts? 3000, Nas, The artist formerly known as Kanye (R.I.P. Prince)- he right there too. Don’t you get yet? That boy good. All-time great good.

If you have ever emceed, you hear him, he affects you; like your A game might not do it affect you.  UPS is hiring affect you. You should have been working on your craft everyday from 16-27 years old like he did obviously affect you…Damn…

I don’t count Section as an album. To me it’s album masked in mixtape format. As far as his 3 full-length album releases (GKMC, TPAB, Damn), I think you have to go back to Rakim (87-90), to find the last time an artist of this caliber made 3 great (not good) albums at this level.

Much like Rakim’s 3rd release, Damn suffers mostly due to its predecessors. Much like Rakim’s Paid In Full and Follow The Leader, Kendrick’s Good Kid Maad City and To Pimp A Butterfly are the standard bearing albums for emceeing for their respective eras. Period. No disrespect to KRS or Kane – no knock to my personal favorite bad guy Pusha T or my home state homie J. Cole who keeps taking that silver medal home every year now it seems like.

Feelings are not facts and these are those.

Oh by the way have you noticed Kung Fu Ken has that second voice of his mastered to only a level that Slick Rick knows. Just making sure your keeping up is all. Especially you old guys not giving dude his due!

Much like let Ra’s Rhythm, Damn’s best moment might be its most vulnerable; Kendrick, much like Rakim with “Mahogany” -delivers a stunner of a love song aptly and simply titled, “Love”. With all the black uplifting, West Coast shit talking, and dazzling displays of emceeing and storytelling, “Love” reminds you Kung Fu Ken is kicking 30 real soon, like this year and that’s real…. You can tell he has grown up a little more. There is a vulnerability that comes with change and just dealing with adult shit which sets the mood…


Much like Rakim did with “No Omega” Kendrick on “Feel” reminds you that his inherent A1 lyrical capabilities are intact and at its zenith still. “Feel” is in competition with GKMC’s “Real” as the most encompassing displays of all his powers.

Finishing your album with one of the greatest stories ever doesn’t hurt either.

Now, he’s not Rakim to me because to me Rakim was the furthest ahead of the curve with the most competition. But Kendrick is ahead of the curve for this generation and it’s not his fault these guys don’t rap as well as him.

You could tell me Kane, G Rap, & 3000 are better, barely and catalog wise they not touching that guy… 3 stacks has NO solo rap albums… Kane and G Rap catalog combined might equal his if you’re being honest with yourself. He’s got more classics than LL already.

He’s the reason Kanye should be quiet and start making beats again. Pac, Big, and Jay would not want to battle this guy don’t get it twisted!

Damn much like Let The Rhythm Hit Em’ is not going to be revered like the two albums before it, but the genius may lie In that it is easier to listen to Damn than TPAB and GKMC; he went stupid smart on this on this one. Rakim did the same thing on Let The Rhythm Hit Em; he went stupid smart and laid it out for you- “Let The Rhythm Hit Em”, “Mahogany”, “In The Ghetto”, “No Omega”, “Step Back”… you knew what the song was before you heard it you were just wondering how the king would approach it.  Sound familiar? “Loyalty”, “Love” “DNA”, “element”… blueprints everywhere…

So… he’s not the best ever but he is amongst them. He’s clearly the best emcee of the last 10 years and he’s top 10. Ever… he’s that damn good. And if he’s not In your top ten, I would ask you to do like Tribe said and Check The Rhime…

Armaud Cooper
Armaud Cooper

East Atlanta raised West Charlotte made Keeper of the FIRE

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