T.I. is clearly impressed by what Kendrick Lamar has achieved.
During an appearance on Apple Music’s The Ebro Show, Tip discussed some of the songs and artists he included on “The Message,” a 25-track playlist that aimed to celebrate Black love. Kendrick, who previously collaborated with T.I., was featured multiple times on the list, which prompted Ebro to ask: “What [does] Kendrick mean to you as a fan of rap?”
“Present day, I think he’s probably the most successful revolutionary rapper alive, you dig?” T.I. said “It’s hard to sell. It’s hard to do good business in the revolutionary category, you know what I mean? It’s not easy … Artists like KRS-One, even Common, Mos Def, the Roots … usually have to trade commercial success for speaking truth in the revolution … And Kendrick has been the one who has been able to simultaneously achieve both. That’s extremely special. That’s an art within itself.”
Kendrick has attained commercial and critical success through his politically charged lyrics that highlight the struggles of Black America. His 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly was praised for its analysis of racial inequality, mental health, and economic disparity; however, it was his 2017 album Damn that was widely considered his most poignant work. Kendrick spoke about the Pulitzer Prize-winning album, specifically his To Pimp a Butterfly protest anthem “Alright,” during a 2017 interview with the Independent. K.Dot boldly argued the song was “probably the biggest record in the world” at the time because its message was so far-reaching.
“What makes a hit record? Because it has some kind of numbers behind it? Is it the amount of streams or the amount of sales or the amount of spins on the radio?” he said. “Nobody can really justify which one it is, because I’ve heard hundreds of records from inside the neighborhood that were quote-unquote ‘hit records’ and never stood a day outside the community … You might not have heard [‘Alright’] on the radio all day, but you’re seeing it in the streets, you’re seeing it on the news, and you’re seeing it in communities, and people felt it.