Opinion: Is Kendrick Lamar’s Black Hippy Crew The 2013 G-Unit?

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By: / June 6, 2013

Is Black Hippy’s mounting run giving you déjà vu? VIBE stacks Kendrick’s crew up against G-Unit’s early days

Comparing Black Hippy to G-Unit of a decade ago seems about as inappropriate as Charlamagne Tha God. But there are some parallels.

While Kendrick isn’t slaying birthday songs, the wordy rapper kicked in the door like 50 Cent with a hard-knocking instant classic, good kid, m.A.A.d. city. He’s been the hottest, most hyped-about rapper of 2013, spazzing on cameo appearances and remixes. And back in 2003, 50 Cent was as ubiquitous as oversized white tees (remember those?!). Then there’s that Dr. Dre guy, who’s been influential in the success of both respective rookies of the year. They’ve got distinctly different rhyming styles: 50’s flow often slows to a drawl and is loaded with threats and gangster glorifications; Kendrick’s is much quicker and far more lyrical, giving a hefty slice of the streets as a reporter rather than a participant. But still, only 10 years separate rap’s two hottest newcomers.

And then there’s their crews. Schoolboy Q recalls Young Buck; they’re both high-energy street disciples with heart. If someone tested Dre at a 2013 awards show, our cash is on Q to pull out a shank. Ab-Soul brings Lloyd Banks’ cool and clever lyrical premium. Soul is aesthetically more eclectic; a side-by-side comparison of Control System and Banks’ Hunger For More exposes as much. But there’s no question that each are the lyrical lieutenants of their set. Meanwhile, slept-on street vet Jay Rock’s intangible presence—like Tony Yayo’s—glues the gang together.

The Hippies seem to have the right idea with their rollout, though. Each member has carefully carving his own following, astutely rotating with solo releases before ever embarking on a group project. So there’s not quite the same hierarchal feel of G-Unit following 50’s record-breaking Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, which preceded the group album Beg For Mercy. While G-Unit followed the same release blueprint as the likes of St. Lunatics and D-12 prior (with much better success), Black Hippy is making its own rules, writing its own script. They’re not following any formulae or chasing radio and mainstream success. And that’s part of why BH is the most talented and exciting new rap troupe of the past few years.

While 50, Banks, Buck and Yayo’s collective chapter is a wrap, Kendrick and Co. are still on the ground floor building the Black Hippy legacy. Gotta wonder what The Game’s take is… —John Kennedy (@youngJFK)