Miguel & Kendrick Lamar: New “Kings of Rap and R&B” Cover VIBE’s Big List 2013 Issue
After releasing two of the most critically-acclaimed LPs in 2012, it only makes sense that VIBE Magazine‘s three-cover Big List 2013 issue is covered by Miguel and Kendrick Lamar.
With Miguel’s sophomore Kaleidoscope Dream and Kendrick’s debut Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, they have ushered in a refreshing new wave of musicianship and dominated their respective genres last year, earning a slew of accolades.
As the new “Kings of Rap and R&B,” they talk with VIBE about their L.A. connection, their own musical futures, how they define genius, the risks they’ve taken, and what they appreciate about the each other’s artistry.
And speaking of risks and mistakes, I think we can all appreciate that Miguel strayed away from “Get Your Hands Up“
The VIBE feature couldn’t have better timing, as we’ll soon hear how well they “vibe” together on an upcoming remix to Miguel’s “How Many Drinks?”
The new music won’t stop there. Miguel will give us another three-ep series of Art Dealer Chic this summer.
Enjoy their full Steven Gomillion & Dennis Leupold-photographed spread and individual covers, as well as a few snippets from the intriguing interview below.
On their first impressions of each other’s music:
“I gotta say that ‘Section.80’ tape was it. What I liked most is the perspective. There’s a song where Kendrick is like—I’m gonna fuck up the lyrics—How do you talk about money, religion and street life all at the same time.
I know I fucked it up, Kendrick. My bad, bro. I just like that it’s an honest perspective. Sometimes you listen to MCs and you’re like, ‘this shit sounds cool, the verse and the cadence or whatever,’ but when you look at the artist, it just doesn’t translate.
I don’t get that from Kendrick. Younger artists, we’re all striving to be ourselves. He’s one of the best examples of that.”
“Likewise. As far as Miguel, one thing I said these past couple of years, from an R&B perspective, I always felt like it’s been missing the depth of actually telling a story. Everything on the radio has been cliché.
But when you get a body of work like Miguel’s, you hear actual intricate details and lines where it’s not just saying, Come here girl, blah blah blah.
You’re hearing the steps to get there. And that’s the part of R&B that’s been missing for a long time. To actually hear somebody new doing it and taking pride in such intricate details that make the song that much better, it makes you wanna ride to it all day.
I come from that world of oldies and gangster rap. My pops probably played more R&B and vocalists in the house than gangster rap, so I always listened for lyrics and the shit that make the women feel good.
Once they like it, you know the dudes gon’ follow it right after, so you gotta be up on your shit.”
On how they define musical genius:
“Somebody that don’t really have any boundaries, that’s not confined to the traditional structure of a song or traditional sounds. When you listen to “Adorn,” it feels like he’s not even trying to structure a radio joint. He just felt the music, felt the instrumentation and wrote the track.”
“My favorite artists always took whatever they loved out of music and made it their own. It was their take on it. Kendrick is one of those people where I can hear Ice Cube’s first two albums’ influence.
I get the street edge, but then I hear like the poetic player, smoothness, creativity and smart street savvy of Andre on Aquemini. That juxtaposition is what I hear in Kendrick, but it’s his own take.
If you listen to my shit, you’re gonna hear Prince, Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin or a little bit of the Beatles. That’s where I’m pulling from.”
On their artistic risks:
“Shit, well this whole album—overall it doesn’t sound like any other R&B album that’s been put out in the past decade. The only album I would say sounds as alternative would be ‘A Beautiful World’ by Robin Thicke, and that was like 2003.
Since then, I haven’t heard a commercial album sound as alternative as this one. Including those psychedelic influences for R&B was a huge risk. I honestly was nervous to put it out.
I remember having a conversation with Mark, my A&R, like, ‘Man, I don’t know if they’re gonna get this shit. It may be bad.’
And he was like, ‘I love the album.’ And I love it, too; I’ll be proud of it when I’m 80, because I know what I was going through when I was writing, producing and creating it.
It’s really cool to get attention from outlets that never really paid attention to me or my music before this album.
On the opposite end, risks that I didn’t even know I was taking—I look back on photos [from All I Want Is You] and the way I was dressed is not something I’d do again.
If anything, when you do take risks, you become either more confident because you’re going to be criticized and speculated, and those conversations are gonna cross you and you’re either sure of yourself and what you believe in or you’re torn down.”
“Making good kid, m.A.A.d city was a risk in itself. The idea of a concept record has been lost for a long time—will that translate to 16-year-old kids in high school rather than the super energetic joint on the radio? I definitely had that in the back of my mind when I was creating this album.
But having that thought process gave me confidence in knowing that ain’t nothin’ new under the sun. By me doing this, it can be fresh and something new to the kids that are not used to a record that has skits intertwined within the songs and a whole album breakdown.
Overall, what I talk about in my music is another huge risk. When you think of the West Coast, you immediately think of crazy-type street credibility. To come from that place but not glorify it is a challenge in itself.”