VIBE: First off, congrats on being dubbed musical geniuses of the current generation. Had you two met before the shoot?
MIGUEL: I never met Kendrick before this.
KENDRICK LAMAR: Even though we're both from L.A., we never met.
MIGUEL: [Laughs] He's just joking around. We got to work before and chopped it up for a quick second. As much as I love the fact that we get to be on the cover, it's cool when it's people that you really fuck with and you're a fan of.
KENDRICK: Definitely, and it makes it easier when we do get back into the studio together. Because in the last couple of years I've [learned] you can't really jump in a studio with everybody 'cause the energy is not there. To vibe with someone on a personal level makes the music sound so much better.
What was your first impression of each other’s music?
KENDRICK: First time I heard Miguel, it was a video actually. What was the first video on BET?
MIGUEL: If it was the one with J. Cole, then that's "All I Want Is You."
KENDRICK: It was the joint before that, early in the game. Whatever it was, it was dope. Something new, something fresh. When I found out that he's from the town, that made him even more official 'cause we don't get too many vocalists getting light and love on the actual talent.
MIGUEL: 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.
KENDRICK: Nah, you good. Exactly. That's it.
MIGUEL: 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.
KENDRICK: 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.
KENDRICK: 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.