Some of the best guest verses from one of the best rappers ever.
There’s no denying it; Kendrick is one of, if not, the biggest rapper in the world right now. He’s released four critically acclaimed albums, in which three have gone platinum, and two have ascended to number one spot on Billboard. He’s curated a soundtrack for a Marvel movie, huddling all his friends in together for a rap extravaganza on the Black Panther soundtrack. He even won a Pulitzer prize for Damn, becoming the first artist outside of a classical or jazz outfit to win the esteemed award. It’s safe to say that Kendrick has transcended rap to become not only a household name but a role model for people around the world.
One thing that people don’t talk about enough, however, is his feature game. Kendrick has a knack for taking songs away from their simple formats and taking them into the world of Kung Fu Kenny, using sporadic flows and animated cadences to make his 16 bars stand out. It’s like every-time he gets on the mic for a feature, he’s looking to do nothing but destroy. In celebration of this, we’ve compiled 7 of our favorite Kendrick features since his breakout sophomore album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, all in which show his ambition and versatility as an artist.
7. Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Never Catch Me”
“Never Catch Me” is a jazz-fusion bombardment of K.O punches from Flying Lotus, and Kendrick keeps up with an emotional and driving vocal performance. The beat goes from chaotic to mellow in instances, and so does Kendrick’s flows, as he switches from aggressive triplets to a smooth, “You’re never gonna’ catch me now” refrain. Very few vocalists are able to keep up with Flying Lotus’ experimental knack for production, especially when he’s in his apocalyptic jazz bag. Kendrick, however, amongst the basslines, saxophones and synths, made himself a standout.
6. Fredo Santana ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Jealous”
This was a unexpected one. Following Kendrick’s acclaim from GKMC no one could of predicted his venture in to the realms of drill considering its backlash from the self-proclaimed custodians (oldheads) of hip-hop. But nonetheless, he did it, and did it well. The contrast of Fredo’s blunt, aggressive bars with Kendrick’s nasally, emotional croons make you pay attention to the grief in the story that these rappers tell together. It’s dark and dense, and is formatted to both make you think, and make you mosh.
5. YG ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Really Be (Smokin’ N Drinkin’)”
This one is a good listen because you can just tell that both artists are having fun. Both Kendrick’s GKMC and YG’s My Krazy Life are deep, dark and introspective, so this song is like a beacon amongst the gritty tales of West Coast life. I mean, come on, YG starts off with “I woke up this morning, I had a boner”. Once again, the contrast between artists is what makes this such an entertaining song. YG is animated with a basic flow, while Kendrick is in his high-pitched bag with an aggressive triplet flow. It’s pure Los Angeles fun.
4. ASAP Rocky ft. Kendrick Lamar, Drake & 2 Chainz – “Fuckin Problems”
Everybody knows this one. Sure it’s not one of Kendrick’s most lyrically inept guest verses, but it’s one of his most memorable and quotable. I mean, “Girl I know you want this dick” is a lyric that everybody screams in the club when DJ drops this record. “Fuckin Problems” signified Kendrick not only a rapper that is able to tell a story, but one that is able to make hits as well.
3. Jay Rock ft. Black Hippy – “Vice City”
“Vice City” is one of Kendrick’s most underrated guest verses. Alongside Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, Kendrick takes on a unique, cartoonish flow as he raps the refrain “Big money, big booty bitches, man that shit gon’ be the death of me”. The beat for this song, courtesy of Cardo and Yung Exclusive, brings a heavy dose of 808s and warping synths, making this somewhat of an off-kilter banger that is bound to get everybody singing along.
2. Lil Wayne ft. Kendrick Lamar- “Mona Lisa”
“Mona Lisa” was one of the most anticipated songs in the long delay for Tha Carter V, and boy, it lived up to expectations. The rappers tell a fictional narrative of Lil Wayne and girl setting up a man to get robbed, and Kendrick raps from the perspective of the victim; crying and emotional throughout his bars as he realises the girl he thought he loved set him up. It’s hilarious, it’s lyrically in depth, and it’s bound to give you goosebumps.
1. Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica – “Control”
You can’t talk about Kendrick features without the iconic “Control”, in which he had smoke for every rapper out. Kendrick is straight aggressive and disrespectful all throughout the track, even dreaming himself the “King of New York” at one point. There’s no denying he murdered for the track, as he spits bar after bar with a passion that most rappers fail to have in their music. One of the best parts about it the verse though is the response it influenced, with rappers such as Papoose, ASAP Ferg, Joey Badass and Joe Budden to respond. This one verse made generations clash and compete in the name of hip-hop; a feat not caused by many features.