7 Rappers Outside the TDE Roster That Kendrick Lamar Has Cosigned
Kendrick Lamar is sitting atop the hip-hop throne, but he's no selfish ruler. The lyrically sharp wordsmith has never had a problem showing love to his peers—especially the increasingly genre-fluid artists of today. The Compton rapper made that much clear when he brought out Rich The Kid for an epic performance of their hit single “New Freezer” at the 2018 BRIT Awards Wednesday night (Feb. 21).
K. Dot jumped on the Rich Forever Music boss’ popular track last fall. With the help of the #NewFreezerChallenge social media trend going viral earlier this year, the song became Rich's first-ever track to land on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Near the end of the aforementioned BRIT Awards performance, Kendrick even shouted out the release date of Rich’s debut album, doubling down on what was already a pretty significant cosign.
Rich The Kid isn't the only up-and-coming rapper who Kendrick has stamped, though. Outside of his obvious TDE compadres, Kendrick shares his spotlight with other artists when he feels moved to do so. He recently spoke with Billboard about passing the torch to the next California king—when the time is right. “If we see the same excitement that you see in yourself in somebody else, that’s the key to evolving and giving [back] in terms of hip-hop,”
Kendrick Lamar's spit game is still A1, so he's not giving up his No. 1 spot just yet. But he'll likely continue putting on those he deems worthy. XXL takes a look back at seven rappers who've received cosigns from the great Kung Fu Kenny.
Rapsody first linked up on wax with Kendrick Lamar in 2011, when the Compton MC appeared on her song "Rock the Bells." They were two up-and-coming wordsmiths getting their bars off over a Khrysis instrumental. Yet Kendrick had ascended to another stratosphere by the time they reunited for "Complexion (A Zulu Love)" in 2015.
As the only rap feature on Kendrick's classic To Pimp A Butterfly LP, Rapsody rose to the occasion with an outstanding, poetic verse about colorism and self-love. It was a huge nod by Kendrick and great look for her career that provided a platform to help her stand out as one of the nicest lyricists in the game—male MCs included. Kendrick continued to show his support by joining her on the Laila's Wisdom track "Power" in 2017.
In a text conversation that Boogie's friend had with the Compton artist, Kendrick said he was feeling Boogie's track "Oh My." K. Dot saw greatness in Boogie's future, and it looks like he was right.
Kendrick Lamar is a big Little Simz fan. He said as much in an interview with U.K.-based BBC Radio 1Xtra.
"It's a young lady out here that's pretty dope, by the name of Little Simz," K. Dot said in an interview from June 9, 2015, also wishing her the best in her career. "Little Simz...she might be the illest doing it."
While the London rapper had been putting out projects for several years before K. Dot's cosign, her status as a UK artist still made her something of a new commodity to U.S. audiences.
Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, Simz headed out on tour with K. Dot's Top Dawg Entertainment affiliate Ab-Soul last April.
Bronx rapper Kemba received much critical acclaim when he released his Negus album in June 2016. But perhaps the greatest praise was when K. Dot invited the talented lyricist onstage to spit during his own performance at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg on Dec. 16, 2016.
Speaking with Red Bull, Kemba remembered that two others had been called up to spit before he took the stage, performing to mixed reactions from the crowd. That's when folks surrounding Kemba began chanting his name and Kendrick took notice and invited the rapper onstage.
Kemba unloaded an acapella rhyme session filled with nimbly rhymed quotables about Black plight, gentrification and a loss of innocence. Aside him, the world's best rapper nodded along to what Kemba was laying down.
"He was kicking some shit," K. Dot said after telling the crowd to make some noise for the MC. "He was kicking some real muthafuckin' shit. Keep going for it, real shit. Keep going. Kemba, remember that muthafuckin' name. Kemba."
K. Dot didn't mince words when it came to the debut LP of one of rap's most controversial up-and-comers. Two days after the release of XXXTentacion's 17 album, Kendrick jumped on Twitter to praise the young artist for his raw ability to convey emotions. Before this, D.R.A.M. brought XXX onstage during a stop on Kenny's DAMN. Tour.
With his extended prison stint and status as an underground artist, Mozzy probably didn't expect to hear his name called out on the Grammy stage any time soon. But that's exactly what happened when K. Dot accepted his trophy for Best Rap Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards on Jan. 28, 2018.
For his shoutout, Kenny referenced one of Mozzy's signature phrases. "As my guy Mozzy say, you know, God up top, all the time, real talk, you know?"
Some were surprised when Rich The Kid pulled up at the 2018 BRIT Awards for a performance last Wednesday (Feb. 21)—but maybe they should've seen it coming. After all, the Queen-born rapper has a Billboard Hot 100 record under his belt, thanks to the success of his Kendrick Lamar-assisted single, "New Freezer." K. Dot's appearance on the electric track was already a mild cosign, but after K. Dot invited Rich along to perform "New Freezer" on an international stage, his support was solidified. He closed things out by announcing the release date for Rich The Kid's debut album, The World Is Yours, which drops on March 30.