Can You Hear JAY-Z’s Influence in This Previously Unreleased Early Kendrick Lamar Song? (Audio)

Kendrick Lamar often has cited JAY-Z as one of his biggest influences. In a 2013 piece with Interview magazine, his response to interviewer Erykah Badu’s question about whether there was an MC who influenced him or whose level he could never attain, Kendrick stated “That I feel I’ll never reach? I’ll have to say Jay or Eminem. Jay for sure—just off the simple fact of his longevity. That, to me, is probably one-in-a-million for rappers. A good career for a rapper is five or six years, so I think Jay still being relevant and having the skills he has—it’s really unmatched. I hope I get to that level and keep my work ethic up and strategically think of certain things. But there will probably only ever be one Jay. He’ll probably go down as the greatest to ever do it.”

Now, an early track featuring K. Dot (Kendrick’s stage moniker prior to taking on his first and middle name) has surfaced and JAY-Z’s influence is readily apparent. The song, titled “Hub City’s Wild Side,” is from a producer named T.Dot Fasheeze and, based on Kendrick’s cadence, sounds like it is from the era right around when he released his Kendrick Lamar EP mixtape (2009), two projects before Section.80. The title is a nod toward Compton, California’s nickname and, as with much material to come from Kendrick, it is a complicated depiction of the good kid’s mad city.

Kendrick’s vocal style and phrasings have evolved considerably since this song was recorded, but the complexity and wordplay were already there. Take a listen.

Also, if you haven’t heard the Kendrick Lamar EP, it’s an excellent part of his increasingly rich catalog.

Related: Kendrick Lamar Joins Jidenna in the Video for the Fiery Remix to Classic Man (Video)