Finding The GOAT (Round 3): Drake vs. Kendrick Lamar…Who You Got?
We have reached the third round in the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). With 42 MCs remaining, we are asking you to help us rank who is the greatest MC to pick up a mic. We will take over 35 years of Hip-Hop into consideration, pairing special match-ups in a “playoffs style.” Since Fall 2014, and for the next several months, we will roll out battles, starting with artists from similar eras paired against one another, until one undisputed King or Queen of the microphone reigns supreme. In a twist, the MC to win by the biggest margin in Round 3 will receive a bye for Round 4.
In post-2010 Hip-Hop, have there been two bigger stars than Drake and Kendrick Lamar? While both MCs were cutting their teeth in the previous decade, each would take the first five years of the 2010s and fast become platinum stars, arguably with classic albums to each of their resumés. The very same week that K-Dot topped Drizzy in Spotify’s 24 hour stream record, they meet in a high profile Round 3 showdown. Big Sean, Childish Gambino, Wiz Khalifa and even elder statesmen of the 2000s class, Royce Da 5’9″ are defeated in the wavy wake, now only one of these two present day throne contenders will go onto Round 4. Each artist has a new body of work out in the last month, with a lot of jewels behind them. Who goes forth? Who goes, proverbially, home? Click one to vote.
Voting For Round 3 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
In one fell swoop, Drake changed the MC paradigm in 2009. With arguably the most important mixtape of the last 10 years, So Far Gone, this versatile Toronto, Ontario actor-turned-MC/singer updated what a rapper looked like, sounded like, and talked about. Although the delivery was deeply influenced by skills-driven acts like Slum Village and Little Brother, Drake made no bones about his upper-middle class childhood, his earlier dealings with fame, and a range of emotions that made many of his messages much more Ghostface Killah than Jay Z.
With a gold-certified mixtape, sold after it was offered initially for free, Aubrey Drake Graham proved to take the music industry to an oasis at a time of sharp declines and sales droughts. With a commanded audience, Drake made albums and tapes that addressed men and women, R&B lovers and Hip-Hop heads, those looking for earnest songwriting and those seeking stunting—all at once. A student of the ’90s and early 2000s Rap class, Drake was a pupil of mentor Lil Wayne just as much as he was Phonte or Elzhi. With such versatility and seamless transitions from different topics, styles, and auras, Drake made some of music’s most complete, sequenced albums in the 2010s. A multi-platinum star, this approachable celebrity embraced art-driven videos, packaging, and made his MC experience cinematic even when the mic was off. Arguably Rap’s biggest star since Kanye West, Drake has also become the genre’s most polarizing and influential figure of the day, at once.
Other Notable Songs:
When it comes to pure skills, has anybody made as much noise in the last 24 months as Kendrick Lamar? The Compton, California native released his major label debut, October 2012’s good kid, m.A.A.d city to show over a million supporters what Heads had known for several years: that Compton is not all lowriders, loc’s, and bangin’ on wax.
Although he has the vantage point of a product fully aware of life’s ills, gang-infested streets, and women being exploited, Kendrick Lamar represents a bookish, thoughtful, Hip-Hop awestruck MC entering his prime. The studious rapper is a product of a strong influence by Andre 3000, DMX, and 2Pac. Along the way, Kendrick Lamar upheld an ’80s-styled level of competition, calling out his peers and using skills to play a public game of lyrical capture-the-flag. More than one year later, one could easily argue that nobody has taken the baton from the Top Dawg/Aftermath Entertainment breakout star who has Dr. Dre in his corner, without relying on his (or much other) high-profile production. In the verses, K-Dot talks Black empowerment, the do or die circumstances of the world around him, and the absence of love. Carrying what seems to be the most recent unanimous “classic album,” a platinum plaque, and one of the best live shows in Hip-Hop, Kendrick Lamar is in his prime, on paper, in stereo, and center-stage.
Other Notable Tracks:
So…who you got?