By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
One of the most unexpected hip-hop highlights to come out of SXSW this week has been the debut of Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” remix featuring none other than Jay-Z. The track hasn’t been officially released, but yesterday Jay’s longtime sound engineer and DJ Young Guru spun the song during a SXSW party at the Empire Auto Space.
MTV’s Hottest MC in the game this year meets one of the greatest rappers arguably, of all time. Two adept lyricists on one rap song always begs the question: Who had the hotter verse?
According to Kathy Iandoli, Music Editor of HipHopDX, it was close but Jay-Z took it with his incredibly personal bars. “Kendrick brought buckets of heat, but I have to give it up to Hov,” she says. “’Up in the clouds…me and my spouse.’ Makes me want to watch the Beyonce documentary on repeat.”
Amos Barshad of Grantland jokes, “Pretty great and everything, but Jay gets docked points for turning in what is pop culture’s only second-best Million Dollar Baby reference in recent memory. (The best one was in ’Pitch Perfect’).”
Georgette Cline, Editor-in-Chief of TheDrop.fm, agrees that both lyricists challenged each other, but her vote goes for Kendrick. “After pronouncing he’s the ’leader of the new school,’ I have to say the best verse goes to Kendrick.”
Sean Lynch, Assistant Editor at The Source feels the song will better serve Kendrick, being the newcomer. “It is my honest belief that the remix necessarily wasn’t needed but will surely help Kendrick in the long run as far as radio spins.” Lynch points out that simply being on a song with Jay-Z is a phenomenal feather in young Kendrick’s cap. “A long time ago Kendrick took a meeting at Def Jam when Hov was still there [as label President]. This remix track is a testament to the heights Kendrick has risen to in the last year,” he says. Cline agrees. “Jay-Z jumping on a Kendrick Lamar song is proof of what many of us think: K-Dot is the MC at the pinnacle of hip-hop right now. Jay doesn’t just rub rap elbows with anyone.”
Whether fans favor Kendrick or Jay-Z, the remix has not officially been released and as such, some of our insiders feel that it’s too early to truly compare verses. “I’m waiting for the official version to be released so I can hear it properly and make my judgement,” sums up Insanul Ahmed of Complex. Lynch agrees. “We’ll wait to see when the official track drops to match up the verses. Kendrick mentions his album is ’platinum’ in his verse. We’ll have to wait till the album reaches that status, I guess?”