Finding The GOAT (Round 4): Kendrick Lamar vs. Big K.R.I.T.…Who You Got?

We have now reached the critical Round 4 in the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). With 21 MCs remaining (with the largest winning margin, Rakim receives a bye for the round), things are really coming down to 10 match-ups, leading AFH’s bracket-style series towards its closing rounds. With more than 35 years of MCs taken into consideration, parsed into generational brackets, Round 4 will mark the last series of peer-based battles. In this elite class, only 10 rappers will go on to join Rakim in Round 5. Also, as with Round 3, the winner by the biggest margin in Round 4 will receive a bye in Round 5. Each battle in Round 4 will include full mixes showcasing the enormous talents of each MC. Who stays, and goes on? Only you can decide.

In the pursuit of Finding The GOAT, two of the 2010-and-newer juggernauts are Kendrick Lamar and Big K.R.I.T. Each MC has toppled better-selling, higher profile MCs to get to Round 4. Now, these two men—who have overtly and subliminally addressed each other (see: “Control” and “King Of The South”) are clearly mutually respected peers and collaborators. Both artists began a run around 2010 that has brought nearly universal acclaim. Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly and K.R.I.T.’s Cadillactica both released during the Finding The GOAT series, have made things all the more interesting. With skyrocketing stock on each end, who is the greater MC in real-time? (click one to vote)

Voting For Round 4 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets

Kendrick Lamar


Big K.R.I.T.


Kendrick Lamar

(Third Round Winner, Against Drake 81% to 19%)
(Second Round Winner, Against Royce Da 5’9″ 56% to 44%)
(Kendrick Lamar (First Round Winner, Against Childish Gambino 76% to 24%)

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.

Kendrick Lamar EP by Kendrick Lamar

Other Notable Tracks:

“Hood Gone Love It” (with Jay Rock) (2011)
“HiiiPower” (2011)
“m.A.A.d city” (with MC Eiht) (2012)




Big K.R.I.T.

(Third Round Winner, Against Action Bronson 55% to 45%)
(Second Round Winner, Against ScHoolboy Q 66% to 34%)
(First Round Winner, Against J. Cole 52% to 48%)

Like the Geto Boys in the ’80s, OutKast in the ’90s, and Little Brother in the ’00s, somehow Big K.R.I.T. has been tasked with proving “the South got somethin’ to say” in the 2010s. The Meridian, Mississippi MC/producer has embraced his regional heritage with strong dialect, cadence, slang, and delivery, but he’s stuffed his Trap music and Slab music with messages as enduring, heartfelt, and empowering as any in his class.

Few unsigned artists have used mixtapes as effectively as K.R.I.T. Admittedly dismissed by his name and background, vehicles like 2010’s K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and 2011’s ReturnOf4Eva were organic, grassroots campaigns that showed the world that Hip-Hop’s next Van Gogh visionary may be upon them. It was in fact Krizzle’s peers, such as Wiz Khalifa, David Banner, label-mate Smoke DZA, and Devin The Dude that showed support before the masses knew how to. Now a Def Jam Records artist, the Cadillac-driving, bass-loving rapper has connected with those before him, those beside him, and those trying to get in the door to finally (and conclusively) kick down Rap’s walls and labels. With him, K.R.I.T. brought merit to the music of the traps, the strip clubs, and the “Dirty South,” while making powerful messages about race, religion, class, and those flyover towns and values that Hip-Hop America too often forgets.

KRITWuzHere by Big K.R.I.T. & DJ Wally Sparks

Other Notable Tracks:

“Somedayz” (2010)
“Hometown Hero” (2010)
Make My” (with The Roots & Dice Raw) (2011)

So…who you got?

Related: Check Out The Finding The GOAT Ballots & Results