Lupe Fiasco Says Kendrick Lamar Is Not A Top Tier Lyricist

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Hip-Hop Fans, we need your help...We recently launched AFH TV, a streaming video service focused on Hip-Hop culture. We already have exclusive interviews, documentaries, and rare freestyles featuring some of Rap’s most iconic artists and personalities. But, there is so much more to come--movies, TV series, talk shows--and we need your support to make it a reality. Please subscribe to AFH TV. It is only $1.99/month or $12/year, and offers 30-day free trials. Thank you.

In the eyes of many Hip-Hop fans, Chicago’s Lupe Fiasco was an exciting addition to the music and culture during the mid-2000s. In his first two albums, a slew of mixtapes, and a la carte songs, the Chicago, Illinois native won over the masses and represented a new guard of conceptual lyricists who could reach the mainstream and radio. This past weekend, Lupe criticized Kendrick Lamar for his lyrics and wordplay. This is not the first time there has been tension on Lupe’s side when it comes to one of 2010s Hip-Hop’s biggest additions. In a series of tweets, Lu’ called out not only Kendrick, but also his label, Top Dawg Entertainment. What appeared to start over single artwork quickly became Lu’ claiming that K-Dot is “not a top tier lyricist.”

While Lupe’s tweets have since been deleted, fans and media captured the conversation which ranged from copying to inferior mic skills.

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On Friday (January 5), Lupe called the “All Stars” single artwork from the upcoming Black Panther soundtrack “too close for comfort” to one of his cover mock-ups from 2017. He included the Black Panther film Twitter account in his tweet, but not members of TDE. He added, “Damn, now I guess I need a new album cover,” before admitting he felt “suspiciously delicious.”

One of TDE’s executives, Dave Free responded, telling Lupe Fiasco to take his accusations and suspicions elsewhere. Notably, the label president made light of one of Lupe’s breakthrough songs. “Go kick and push yourself into a tree with these wild allegations.”

Later, answering questions from fans on Twitter, Lupe continued speaking against TDE, by way of its biggest star. On Saturday evening (January 6), the 1st & 15th label founder did not mince his words or opinions. “I’ll put it to you like this. [Kendrick Lamar] is not a top tier lyricist to me and my standards when it comes to punchlines and bars,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet that was captured by BET. “His overall lyrics are good, his stories phenomenal, but punchline entendre lyrically I don’t see it.”

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As one fan pushed back, Lupe seemingly doubled down: “I’ve never been destroyed,” he responded to one fan who appeared to defend Lamar. “Also the only issue that the world thinks I have with K. Dot and I actually do is that I think his ‘Control’ verse was wack and super overhyped to be a verse claiming you are the best rapper. It was very weird. I was told it was just bait, but still.”

Kendrick Lamar did not publicly respond to Lupe Fiasco’s tweets. On last year’s “ELEMENT.,” the MC attacked artists who dissed him and then denied or tried to hide it: “Most of y’all just envy, but jealousy get you killed / Most of y’all throw rocks and try to hide your hand / Just say his name and I promise that you’ll see Candyman / Because it’s all in your eyes, most of y’all tell lies / Most of y’all don’t fade, most of y’all been advised / Last LP I tried to lift the Black artists / But it’s a difference between black artists and wack artists.” In October’s conversation with Touré for Vice i-D, Kendrick likened Rap to a full-contact sport. “[Hip-Hop] plays as a contact sport, and as something that you connect to [through] songwriting. Growing up and listening to battles between Nas and JAY-Z, that’s the sport for me.”

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On Sunday (January 7), Lupe told fans that he was no longer tweeting about Hip-Hop. He left with the proclamation that Aesop Rock (of Rhymesayers Entertainment and Def Jux fame) is “the best rapper in the world right now”:

Kendrick’s 2013’s “Control” verse (on a Big Sean song) name-checked a number of elite competitors that Lamar would “murder” on the mic. Lupe Fiasco was not one of the rappers mentioned.

Fiasco soon responded to K-Dot on “SLR2,” rapping: “Now we all heard what he said / But what he said means we dead and that sh*t is insane / He’s so crazy, look at the little baby / Ni**a, you ain’t Nas, ni**a you ain’t JAY-Z / You will respect me, you will reject me / But I’ve done so much, no matter how far you go, you will reflect me.

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In April last year, on single “Kneelin’ On Needles,” Lupe Fiasco notably rapped an illustration of Hip-Hop as a body. He referenced Kendrick: “I might drop SKULLS as an art show / K-Dot wants stretch marks / I wanna own everything that’s west of the best parts / K.R.I.T., everything from the legs down / Mickey Factz, everything where the neck starts / Necklace, head, heart, go, get set, mark, oh.

That single was released less than two weeks ahead of Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Like Lupe’s 2015’s Tetsuo & Youth, both albums suggest a unique concept, if played in reverse order.

Fiasco has historically bonded with TDE artist Ab-Soul. The two swapped features on 2014’s These Days… and Tetsuo & Youth. Additionally, Lu’ works closely with DJ Dahi, Terrace Martin, and Bilal.

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Lupe Fiasco released Drogas Light less than one year ago. His first LP without Atlantic Records backing debuted at #28. Earlier in the week, he participated in a Twitter Rap battle with Daylyt.

Another 2000s class MC (and “Control” collaborator), Jay Electronica, has dissed Kendrick Lamar in the pastwith TDE members besides K-Dot responding.