LEADERS OF THE NEW COOL
WITH TWO RESPECTIVE CLASSICS, MIGUEL AND KENDRICK LAMAR ARE PROUDLY WAVING THE TORCH FOR NEW-AGE HIP-HOP AND R&B. BUT CAN THEY CLAIM THE THRONE? THE L.A. PHENOMS PLOT THEIR TAKEOVER
Words: JOHN KENNEDY
Photos: STEVEN GEOMILLION & DENNIS LEUPOLD
KENDRICK LAMAR IS FLOATING on a high. There are no blunts being passed around as the rapper lounges in Top Dawg Entertainment recording studios in Los Angeles. Yet on this March afternoon you couldn’t kill his buzz with Elmer Fudd’s sawed-off shotty. Hours ago, the world heard the remix to “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” a mellow cut off Lamar’s universally applauded 2012 album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, and the Black Hippy leader is still geeking over the revamp’s royal coup: a verse from rap idol Jay-Z. “I’ve always aspired to just come close to a Jay,” the 25-year-old MC gushes into his iPhone, between blurts of Hov’s lyrics. “I consciously said to myself, ‘Don’t let this moment pass you, homeboy.’”
Miguel, 26, is actively building his own time capsule as he dials in from Houston, where he’ll open up for the seventh stop on Alicia Keys’ Girl on Fire tour tonight. His experimental 2012 sophomore LP, Kaleidoscope Dream—powered by the Grammy-winning impregnator “Adorn”—has become a critical darling that’s got the likes of Kelly Clarkson open. (“I don’t know who the hell you are,” Clarkson blabbered onstage during the Grammys in February, referencing Miguel’s steamy performance, “but we need to sing together. I mean, good God, that was the sexiest damn thing I’ve ever seen.”) And he's following up Nas and J. Cole features with another series of Art Dealer Chic EPs for this summer.
Today’s phoner is a reunion of sorts since their first VIBE cover shoot in L.A.’s GNL Studios two weeks prior, Kendrick’s arm slung around Miguel’s neck like the chummiest of frat brothers. The pairing is appropriate—the pensive duo represents the coming kings of rap and R&B, the trailblazers to carry the baton for the next generation. The mutual respect is there: Kendrick loves Kaleidoscope’s bubbly “How Many Drinks?”—he'll hint at his official remix of the track—while Miguel has been stuck on good kid’s “Money Trees.” And they’re clearly not letting their moment blow by. VIBE doubled up with the two music prodigies to discuss their musical futures and becoming the new Best of Both Worlds.
CLICK ARROWS ABOVE TO CONTINUE READING THE Q&A