Drizzy Drake & Kung Fu Kenny. Arguably, these two most influential rappers on the planet have been the centerpiece of debates for the last two to three three years now. Of course, other names are thrown in the “Best rapper right now” argument; names like Travis Scott, J. Cole, Eminem, maybe even Denzel Curry or Nicki Minaj.
These artists are all good to great for different reasons, but Drake and Kendrick are the two most influential and important acts in the rap game as of 2018; and the better musical artist is the latter.
The fact that it’s 2018, and some people still can’t accept that Drake’s music is declining in quality is truly disappointing. The fact that people said that “Scorpion,” Drake’s newest album, which I thought was pretty decent, is a top 10, top 5, or top 3 album of this year, really worries me about the state of music in 2018.
Before anyone thinks “What’s wrong with Drake? He’s a good guy, makes catchy tunes, and can rap AND sing,” - granted, Drake is easily one of the best rap artists ever, and everyone knows the man is capable of making great music (see any project from “If You’re Reading...” back). But plain and simple, he is not on the level of Kendrick Lamar right now. Drake can’t create music that can impact the entire world, from temptation to racial issues to freedom. Drake can’t create an album with a continuous concept. Drake simply can’t artistically compete with Kendrick.
Kendrick hasn’t even released a solo project this year, it’s still obvious to any true rap fan who understands the rap game that he is the top dog (no pun intended). Kendrick’s last three full-length albums have each been truly excellent. The peak of this trilogy of releases is the masterpiece that is “To Pimp A Butterfly,” possibly the best rap album of the ‘10s.
How does this impact Drake? Obviously, Drake is always going to sell a surplus of records and make a substantial amount of money. After all, he’s the biggest rap artist on the planet, with five platinum albums, his own shoe deal, and a net worth of $100 million; but Drake hasn’t released an album in the last three to four years that is as good as Kendrick’s worst album in the same time period.
But in my opinion, Kendrick is just making better music than Drake right now. In 2017 Drake and Kendrick both released solo projects; Drake with “More Life” in March, and Kendrick with “DAMN.” in April. “More Life” sold 505,000 copies in its first week. Meanwhile, “DAMN.” sold 841,000 in its first week.
Drake fans will argue that since Drake sells more, he is better, but since 2017 is the most recent time Kendrick and Drake have released an album in the same year, it seems like that argument is now invalid.
Not only is Kendrick capable of making music that is more meaningful, more lyrically dominant, and way truer to Hip-Hop’s roots; he is also capable of outselling “the biggest rapper on the planet.”
The only question is, can he keep it up? Only time will tell. Stay humble, Kendrick (pun intended).
Header Photo: Jorja Smith performing at Velvet Underground on August 24th, 2017. Assisted by Maverick Sabre and Drake. Photographed by Anton Mak. The Come Up Show from Canada
Thumb Photo: Kendrick Lamar @ Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg by hds for Wikipedia