Over the past year Kendrick Lamar has become a go-to guy for rap features, having logged rap collaborations with A$AP Rocky, J. Cole, 50 Cent, Tech N9ne, Pusha T, Eminem and Big Sean on his much-talked-about Hall of Fame leftover "Control."
On more than a few occasions, Kendrick has stolen the show, upstaging his collaborators with better bars, but fans may find it interesting to learn that there is one MC who keeps him on his toes: Black Hippy's Jay Rock.
"Rock always been big brother, Rock always had that 'urrgh.' So when we got on the mic with Rock, you already know what time it is," Kendrick told MTV News of the collaborations between him and his TDE labelmates Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q. "You gotta do what you gotta do, because he's gonna smash it and I'm glad that the world is finally recognizing it because he is a problem for sure."
Before Kendrick became rap's it-guy, it was Jay Rock who helped to build Top Dawg Entertainment. "I honestly feel Rock — he probably himself feels like he's the underdog or something," Schoolboy Q said. "We look at him as the n---a that started it up, gave us our starter kit, introduced to the game. [He] brought us places and took us on the road; we didn't go on the road until we went with him."
Jay Rock released his debut album Follow Me Home in 2011 and has spent the last two years dropping freestyles and adding contributing supporting verses for his Black Hippy brethren. On Kendrick's "Money Trees" he added standout bars, just as he did on the group's "U.O.E.N.O." freestyle from earlier this year.
"We competitive. We're so competitive in the studio we would sit there and really go at, so going at it on the outside skirts — people that's outside of the family, that's nothing because we're really going in on each other inside there," Lamar said of the group's internal motivations.
Rock humbly accepts the praises, though he never puts himself on a pedestal. "Me and them dudes, we've been doing this sh-- together for years, so with that being said it's a friendly competition type sh-- with us in the lab anyway. Because I know how they gonna come, they gonna come hard, they gonna do their stuff so I just make sure I do my stuff too," he said. "I'm the big brother; I'm the enforcer Jay Rock... Them my dudes, they go super hard on the mic, I don't think nobody f---in' with them though."