2. Like Nasty Nas, He’s Carrying An Entire Coast On His Back
Pressure has a funny way of dictating the truth. You either sink or swim. In the case of Nas, the pressure was mountainous before the release of Illmatic. Sure, the East Coast hip-hop scene was already catching fire with the likes of the Native Tongues crew, Wu-Tang Clan and Redman. But the West Coast’s Death Row Records was seemingly ruling the rap landscape culturally and commercially. Dr. Dre, Snoop, Tha Dogg Pound, Lady of Rage, RBX, Nate Dogg and crew were popular music’s new bullies on the block.
So who would lead the charge for the East Coast? Who would anchor New York’s next wave of MC’s in the face of the Cali’s bruising takeover? Nasir Jones. But truthfully, Nas didn’t achieve it with gaudy record sales. Illmatic barely went gold its first go-around. It was its towering artistic impact on lyricists everywhere. Almost overnight, Nas made practically every MC go back to lab and curse the rap God’s. He ushered in the next generation of great East Coast MC’s that saw the Notorious BIG and Jay-Z become stars in their own right.
Lamar finds himself in an even more precarious position. The West Coast rap scene is all but dormant. Between respected O.G.’s (Snoop, E-40, and Dre) and rising underground scrappers (Nipsey Hussle, Dom Kennedy, Fashawn, and members of Kendrick’s Black Hippy clique), the West Coast has lacked a new across-the-board force. Enter Kendrick Lamar. Sway takes the newcomer’s impact on the West Coast rap scene even further. “To me Kendrick is having the same impact as Snoop did early on,” he boldly claims. “Like Snoop, he’s helping to redefine how people [react] to West Coast music. Snoop transcended geographical boundaries. Everybody liked him.”
“Flash forward 20 years later, Kendrick is surrounded by hot spitters from Schoolboy Q to Jay Rock and all his boys,” Sway continues. “But Kendrick is now what Snoop was: somebody from the West Coast that everybody liked. And he’s coming under the direction of Dr. Dre. But forget about him being from Los Angeles. He’s winning people over with his skill level. Kendrick is killing people with just his lyrics, no gimmicks.”