Reporting by Branden Peters
Kendrick Lamar is currently sitting at the top of the rap game, but that doesn't mean that the Compton, California MC doesn't look up to the greats. In fact, on his much-buzzed about To Pimp a Butterfly LP, K. Dot takes a moment to shout out one of rap's unsung heroes.
"Critics wanna mention that they miss when hip-hop was rappin’/ Motherf--ker if you did then Killer Mike would be platinum," Dot spits on "Hood Politics."
Mike captivated rap fans with his breakout appearance on OutKast's 2001 single "The Whole World." His voice was booming, his flow was fluid and his wordplay was clever -- especially when he bragged that he catches "the beat running like Randy Moss."
Since that moment 14 years ago, Mike has grown into one of rap's most respected lyricists, even if he's never scored record-breaking sales or prime Billboard positioning. His latest critically acclaimed album, Run the Jewels 2, pairs him with New York producer/rapper El-P for the second time.
"I felt like when a professional ballplayer compliments another professional ballplayer. That is a compliment; no one can understand how truly dope that is unless you're a ballplayer," Mike told MTV News on Friday in Atlanta, while sitting beside EL-P as they got set to film a new video.
"Unless you stepped on the court and laced up your shoes and had to play against Jordan you don't understand what a compliment it is when Jordan says, 'Yeah, I like that guy, he's one of those ones.'"
Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the best basketball player to ever play the game and while Kendrick may have a long way to go before he is considered the "Michael Jordan of Rap" he is clearly having a moment.
Mike's very first commercial rap appearance was on OutKast's "Snappin' & Trappin'" from their 2000 Stankonia LP. Over the past 15 years he has released six solo albums, four mixtapes and two group albums with El-P. He's also collaborated with Jay Z, T.I. and Kendrick's TDE labelmate Schoolboy Q. His catalog is driven by loud and rebellious jams that carry on in rap's militant and socially conscious tradition.
It's not hard to see why Lamar admires him.
"For me it was an honor. I'm a big fan of Kendrick. I didn't know he listened to me, I suspected maybe he did. I'm glad it was confirmed in such a huge and complimentary way. I just want to thank him," Mike said humbly.
"I want a Scarface-like career," he said, name-dropping the Houston rap icon who is famous for tracks like "I Seen a Man Die" and "Smile" with 2pac.
"Scarface has never been wack in 25 years -- 27 now -- of making music and that's what I want my legacy to be," Killer continued. "I would like to be a Bun B, I would like to be an E-40, I would like to a be a rapper that is dope over multiple decades."
Sounds like Kendrick's shout brings Killer one step closer to realizing his dream. "To have that acknowledged and to give me a few more looks, I truly appreciate him," he said. "Thank you Kendrick, I owe you a cool dinner at a very fancy restaurant."