With a studio album that’s been dubbed a “classic” by many in the Hip Hop community and a newly-released verse that’s placed the rap world in a frenzy over the past week, many have been quick to comment on Compton emcee Kendrick Lamar’s ability to clench the top spot in Hip Hop. But according to rap veteran Talib Kweli, the TDE spitter still has a long way to go.
During a recent interview with Vlad TV, Talib was asked to share his thoughts on Kendrick’s heavily-praised “Control” verse, to which he stated that he's a fan of the rapper, but he needs a few more years in the game as well as added albums before he can be compared to any of the greats.
While speaking on the young rapper, Talib went on to name the artists he feels he’s still “competing against.” According to Talib, his rap competition is not based on who’s hot or trendy at the moment, but those who’ve made the most impact in the genre including the likes of Big Daddy Kane and Rakim.
“When I compete, I’m competing against not just who’s hot right now or who’s trendy right now, I’m competing against the whole cannon of music,” Talib revealed. “Like when I think about the greats like Big Daddy Kane and Rakim, they still in my top 10. Kendrick Lamar is creeping up into my top 10. But he only put out one official, official album and a couple of mixtapes. Maybe like Kane said, in 20 years Kendrick will be in my number one. Up in the top five like a Jay Z or Nas has made it. But until then I think it’s premature. As much as I like Kendrick and respect him…I think it’s premature for anyone who knows better to be like, ‘Oh, automatically he’s number one. Yeah, he’s gunning for number one. He’s gunning for the top spot. You better watch your spot. He’s coming for it.’ But there’s a lot to be done.”
Prior to addressing his current lyrical competition, the Prisoner Of Conscious rapper circled back to the moment he saw Kendrick during a show in Los Angeles and the reception the rapper received from a number of West Coast notables including Kurupt and Dr. Dre.
Talib also commented on Kendrick drawing inspiration for his “Control” verse from Kurupt’s verse on “Get Bizy.”
“I seen Kendrick Lamar a couple of years ago do a show in Los Angeles,” said Talib. “And seen The Game and Snoop and Dr. Dre in the audience. And Kurupt, and everybody came on the stage and they all hugged Kendrick on stage…I watched this passing of the torch. And I’m like ‘Wow, Kendrick is really the tradition of West Coast.’ Where Snoop and them and Kurupt and them and Daz and them was on Death Row. If you look at the history of what they was doing, they was battling and they was coming after everybody in the country…So, Kendrick quoted Kurupt. Kendrick lifted a whole couple of bars out of something Kurupt said on a song he had with Bad Lucc. Kendrick’s very smart. He knew he would get people in an uproar by quoting one of his heroes. When Kurupt is the one who said, ‘I’m a king of New York.’”
Released earlier in the week, Big Sean’s “Control” features guest verses from both Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica. Kendrick’s verse on the record garnered instant attention thanks to the rappers claim to the title of “king of New York” and the various emcee’s he calls out on the song, including J. Cole and Big K.R.I.T.