Kendrick Lamar, who is profiled by The New York Times, explains why he's a competitive emcee.
“If my edge is dull, my sword is dull, and I don’t want to fight another guy whose sword is dull,” Lamar says. “If you’ve got two steel swords going back and forth hitting each other, what’s gonna happen? Both of them are going to get sharper...Everybody that’s in the industry has lost their edge. There’s really no aggression. You gotta say things particular, and everything is so soft."
Eminem, who also speaks on the matter in the piece, also addresses Kendrick Lamar's competitive nature.
"There’s a certain hunger that you can sense about Kendrick," Eminem says. "He raps to be the best rapper in the world. He competitive-raps. That’s one of the things that’s going to drive his career. He’s going to be around for a long time."
"I completely respect what Kendrick does and the fact that he's in the same camp, that he's on Aftermath, only made sense to [have him on The Marshall Mathers LP 2]," Eminem said at the time. "He came to Detroit, we kicked it for a few minutes, you know, and I felt the vibe of what he's like and everything, and you know, he's a super cool and super humble dude. When we did that record, I think that was actually a week or two before he did the verse to 'Control.'"
Kendrick Lamar Details Kanye West's Yeezus Tour Experience
The New York Times piece follows Kendrick Lamar while the rapper performed in Kanye West's Yeezus Tour experience, a tour run West reportedly requested personally.
“It’s a different kind of thrill when an actual artist asks you, when Kanye asks you,” he says. “Now I know he’s really interested in what I do.”
While Lamar was appreciative of West's request, TDE's President, Punch, says the label initially didn't want Kendrick Lamar on the Yeezus Tour.
“Believe it or not, we were actually trying not to do the tour,” Punch says. “We wanted Kendrick to be recording that whole time.”
West "wasn’t taking no for an answer," Punch says. West got Lamar a studio bus and gave him a co-starring role on the tour.
“Kanye said he didn’t want to make it seem like we were just the opener,” Lamar says. “It was dope to have the actual headliner of the show want my show to be just as good as his.”
In January 2014, Lamar spoke about learning from West.
"Kanye taught me to never to downplay your ideas,” Kendrick Lamar said at the time. "I learned to always stay as creative as possible and never have any boundaries. Those things that people called 'rants' on-stage are real conversations that we had behind closed doors -- about business and how when you get to a certain level people won't want to see you break through because they only see you as a rapper."
While Lamar has discussed learning from West in the past, as mentioned above, The New York Times piece provides additional insight regarding the dynamics between West and Lamar while they were on tour together.
"It’s tempting to imagine that tour partnerships between an established star and an up-and-comer result in lots of communal bonding," the article says. "And of course sometimes they do. Bono has become famous for taking young bands out on the road with U2 and dispensing his so-called Bono Talk, a sermon on how to avoid the pitfalls of fame. Lamar knew people wanted to think this was happening between him and West, and he obliged within reason, dutifully explaining to journalists how much he was learning from West or telling an employee of his label who asked if they had been hanging out, 'We haven’t really got an off day yet to chill out, but that’s the plan.' But a mentor-mentee relationship wasn’t what was expected or desired, and it certainly was not what was happening."