Eminem Knew Kendrick Lamar Was A ‘Genius’ The First Time He Heard Him

With love, from 8 Mile to Compton

It’s one thing to have an insightful conversation between Kendrick Lamar and a super-producer like Rick Rubin. It’s another to have additional experts eavesdropping on the internet, and that’s how Eminem wound up lending his thoughts — and highest compliments — to the Compton rapper for his recent GQ Style cover story.

K. Dot and Rubin talk plenty of shop — inspiration, To Pimp a Butterfly, whether or not Lamar’s next album will be continuing on the path forged by Butterfly or strike out on its own, etc. — and Eminem chimes in with a Genius annotation once their Q&A session hit on childhood inspirations. Lamar name-checks the Real Slim Shady himself, saying that he inherited his “clarity” from Eminem as a kid.

“The day I heard The Marshall Mathers LP, I was just like, ‘How does that work? What is he doing?’” he tells Rubin. “‘How is he putting his words together like that? What’s the track under that? An ad-lib? What is that?’ And then, ‘Why don’t you go in the studio and see?’ So I do that. Then it became, ‘How’s his words cutting through the beat like that? What is he doing that I’m not doing, now that I’m into it?’ His time is impeccable. When he wants to fall off the beat, it’s impeccable.”

Eminem returned the favor and doled out some kind words of his own.

“When I first heard Kendrick’s debut on Aftermath [Records], I couldn’t believe it,” he writes of 2011’s Section.80. “The fact that it was his first real album and he was able to make it into a story which intertwines with the skits like that was genius. That hasn’t really been done that many times, let alone on someone’s first time up. The level of wordplay, the deliveries, the beats — it’s just a masterpiece.”

Game recognize game — or in this case, genius recognize genius.