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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Photos By Michael Scott Slosar

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Chemistry at the Photo Shoot:

I guess the most interesting thing was just watching them interact at the photo shoot. They were all kind of like everything you would expect them to be—Q was the loudest—what’s his nickname Puffy? He kind of lived up to that, I guess. He was [smoking] a lot. Him and Ab-Soul. Jay Rock was—what he was like in the story, more reserved.

You try to give equal shine to everyone, but the story just kind of writes itself. I guess that’s why ScHoolboy Q is mentioned the most in this story.

Both Kendrick and Jay Rock were hanging out, but I’m sure you’ve hung out with a group of friends; there’s always that one kid who’s just the loudest. It’s not like they were off to the side, but it’s not like they were more into their heads, they’re just quieter, I think. Like Kendrick kind of talks about it in the story about how he likes riding on planes because of how quiet it is and how he can kind of delve into his own thoughts. I really don’t think Q’s like that unless it’s when he’s not with the guys and then he’s not as loud.

Kendrick, The Break Out Star:

I was on staff [with XXL] last year when Kendrick was the XXL Freshman. I was kind of the guy who was chanting his music, I guess, and I thought he was kind of a no brainer for the list. XXL [shoots can be] really chaotic and you don’t have a chance to [talk to artists], unless you’re doing the artist interviews, to grasp what they’re about in the short time. I think I did Fred the Godson—I didn’t really talk to Kendrick [Lamar]. He was in the office last year and we didn’t really talk, he gave me a look when I said something. I didn’t really know him last year to notice a change.

I thought it was interesting how Kendrick—we were told to interview Kendrick first ‘cause they were in New York—I think for 2 days, I’m not sure. Everything, the photo shoot was so—we didn’t have a lot of time with them. I was told by the publicist, “Just make sure you get Kendrick first.” I caught up on the phone with Q and Jay Rock later that week, and I got up with Soul the next day in the offices, so Kendrick had to be done ‘cause he’s obviously the breakout star and I won’t say the most media trained, but I guess he’s kind of been through it already from when he was doing press for his last solo album. So he just kind of knows the game and knows the talk of him being the breakout star. I don’t really believe there’s any type of jealousy over there, but I guess it’s only natural to inquire because—when Dr. Dre is his first feature on his single and he gets a verse on Drake’s album and does the most solo shows and has the most ink written about him.

Listening to Black Hippy:

I listen to [Kendrick's] music and I like his album from last year, definitely, and I followed—I was going to get Q’s album when it came out earlier this year. It’s been kind of a crash course with Ab-Soul and Jay Rock’s music. I’ve heard their music, but I’ve never really written about it or gotten into it. I think they’re all great. Ab-Soul is kind of—it’s interesting how he’s like...I don’t like when people say the “most lyrical,” the “most this,” but he’s the most different, I want to say, both musically and lyrically. Listening to some of Ab-Soul’s stuff was a pleasant surprise. Like I was familiar with his stuff, but I got really into it and I didn’t know he was as good as he is.

Kendrick’s Performance in New York:

I didn’t expect Kendrick to be that popular. I know he’s popular and I know he’s a really good artist, but I didn’t expect—I expected fans to be lining around the corner ‘cause it’s his free shit, but all the response and lyrics. Like it isn’t like “one, two, buckle my shoe,” his lines are a little intricate so all those fans knowing all those lyrics, I guess, was cool that he got to share it. The devoted fan base in New York—I guess that’s what kind of speaks about their music really. Not just Kendrick’s but the whole group. They’re all from L.A., but besides from Jay Rock—the rest is obviously California, but a lot of the other stuff is not coast specific. There’s no specific sound, but that’s kind of vindictive of that in 2012. New York artists sound like Houston artists you know with A$AP Rocky—I mean that’s not only for us, but the most promising or the most popular New York rapper now sounds like Houston. The fact that Kendrick spits and he doesn’t sound like your typical L.A. rapper or what we think as a typical L.A. rapper in like 1995, [that] in 2012 is impressive.

Leopard Shirt & Gold Watch:

It was kind of a ridiculous shirt; you kind of just open yourself up to being teased, if you will. Like a leopard-print shirt? But the Ab-Soul thing is kind of funny. I think it’s because Ab-Soul is just the youngest and he came from a different background from everybody else. The funny thing is that right away we went to [discuss] the gold watch, how they weren’t gold. I probably wouldn’t leave without [checking] the gold watch someone gave me, you know? It’s kind of strange.

Finding Top Dawg:

I guess the only disappointment I have is that I couldn’t get Top Dawg on the phone. I was told by numerous agents that he doesn’t do phone interviews, and I think he could’ve given a lot.

I wouldn’t say that [he’s shrouded], that has a negative connotation. It means he has something to hide, but I guess he just likes his privacy and a lot of people are like that. They don’t want to be in the spotlight and they don’t wan to be quoted. I hate being quoted; obviously I don’t do these things. [Laughs.]