Joe Budden Says Kendrick Lamar & Royce 5’9 Are The 2 Best MCs In The World (Video)

The release of Kendrick Lamar’s latest album has triggered discussion of where he stands in the Hip-Hop pantheon of MCs. Many consider him to be 4 for 4, in terms of outstanding LPs, including Section.80, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, To Pimp A Butterfly and, now, DAMN. As untitled.unmastered. was simply a bundle of TPAB outtakes, most, including Kendrick and his label, do not count it as an official album. The responses to the question of where Kendrick stands range from one of the best in the current class of MCs to one of the greatest of all-time, with personalities like Peter Rosenberg calling him the GOAT.

In a day and age where literally everyone is able to share their opinion with the masses, they mean less and less. In the case of Joe Budden, however, the debate holds a bit more weight. For years, Budden has been viewed by serious Hip-Hop listeners as a rapper’s rapper. In the Summer of 2016, he was seen as carrying the mantle for true lyricism, in a very public battle with Drake. Moreover, over the course of the last 2 years, Budden has amassed a fanbase of millions for his podcast because of his unbridled willingness to speak his truth, no matter how unpopular it may be. As such, he has earned respect both as an MC and an informed commentator on the culture.

On the most recent episode of his I’ll Name This Podcast Later podcast, Budden tackled the question of “Who is the best rapper in the world?,” and his response was far more sophisticated than many others out there. Rather than being boxed in with the question, Budden said there were two MCs deserving of the title: Kendrick Lamar and Royce 5’9.

Budden’s selection of these 2 men is interesting on a number of levels, and both relate to his ties with Slaughterhouse. As Slaughterhouse is comprised of Budden, Kxng Crooked (pka Crooked I), Joell Ortiz and Royce, it is not surprising that Budden would show love to one of his crew members, but it is exceedingly honest that he would single out one as being the best among the 4 (and not declaring it to be himself). It is akin to admitting to liking one sibling more than the others. Further, for those who followed Hip-Hop closely in 2013 and 2014, there was a very public competition between Slaughterhouse and TDE, Kendrick’s crew, along with Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q, at the time. In fact, there was even talk for several months of a potential Rap battle between the 2 collectives. While a head to head match up never materialized, the 2 squads did de facto compete in the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards cyphers. Thus, Budden selecting a member of an adversarial crew as the greatest rapper is also significant.

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“I think I have narrowed down my best rapper in the world to two individuals, tied 1A/1B, both for very different reasons. And, I put these 2 gentlemen against any 2 that anybody else would think of,” begins Budden in the clip. “Kendrick Lamar. Royce Da 5’9. To me, those are the two best rappers in the world, currently,” he continues. From there, Budden enters into an informed debate with his co-hosts, Rory and Mal, who clearly know the capabilities of both MCs well. The discussion is nuanced and layered, with Rory making assessments like “I will say you put Royce and Kendrick against each other on a stage and just rap? Royce is tearing Kenrdick’s ass up. I’m going to remember more lines from Royce. It will be wittier. But, if these two were supposed to make an album that comes out the same day–a Rap album–I think Kendrick is going over Royce there, just from his artistry point of view.”

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The debate continues on that level of discourse for nearly 5 minutes, and is great fodder for discussion. Interestingly, when Ambrosia For Heads held its competition to determine Hip-Hop’s greatest of all-time MC, as determined by millions of readers, in 2014 and 2015, Kendrick Lamar and Royce faced each other, with Kendrick emerging as the victor with a margin of 56% to 44%.