Kendrick is indeed a great rapper, but sometimes I wonder if he has it in him to make a great album. I’ve always found his production to be lacking; sort of uninspired. I’d love to hear him over El-P beats, for example. I haven’t given Damn. a full listen yet though. Humble. is great, I don’t know if he’ll be able to match it. Remember when he did that amazing live performance on the Colbert Report? Then the production version came out and the song, though the lyrics were basically the same, lost all its life and energy. Kendrick’s albums just seem like they’re missing a little polish to turn them into great albums. But part of that might just be personal preference. I can’t knock his rhyming or creativity.
But when it comes to the greatest rapper alive, I don’t think he’s there. I mean, anyone who thinks Drake should be in the conversation probably shouldn’t be talking about who is a great rapper — Drake sings songs for 14 year old girls. If Drake is up for best rapper, I’m up for best world leader.
Kendrick is definitely in the conversation, but I think he lags behind guys like El-P, Aesop Rock, and Vince Staples, just to name a few. I do want to hear Kendrick feature on an RTJ track, though. I think that would be amazing.