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Old School Archives

Kendrick Lamar's favourite albums by Jay-Z

Everybody knows Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z are two of the illest rappers with a pen in their hand. The similarities between the pair are evident, too and Jay has understandably influenced Lamar significantly throughout his career. Yet, initially, due to coastal rivalries, Kendrick refused to listen to ‘Hov’, and it took him years to realise Jay’s greatness.

Over the last decade, Lamar has proved himself as the most crucial hip-hop artist of this era, and he’s kept the old school sensibilities of artists like Jay-Z alive. His consistency has made him more than just a rapper, but a Pulitzer Prize winner, too, which confirms his status as one of the most masterful orators around.

Like Jay-Z, his gilded way with storytelling can make Lamar’s delivery feel like a dagger to the heart. It wasn’t until Lamar was 14 that he first decided to listen to ‘Hova’ a listen, even though it was sacrilege because Jay was a New York guy, and he hasn’t looked back since. 

In 2012, Lamar spoke to Complex about Jay’s influence on him, particularly when he started writing, highlighting two records from his discography that mean the most to him.

“I had to double back and listen to Jay-Z once I started writing,” he said after namechecking Jay’s debut, Reasonable Doubt. “And one of my favourite tracks on there is ‘Politics As Usual.’ Just the vibe of it and the flow. I really captured that flow and stole that cadence just being a student of the game.

“I got into Reasonable Doubt like 2002, 2001. I was super late. On the West Coast we weren’t really playing East Coast music like that just because of all the beef stuff that was going on—we was really influenced by that. I’m like 9, 10, 11 years old. I don’t wanna listen to nothing on the East Coast. Everything everybody was playing was Death Row.”

The Black Album is the other Jay record which Lamar cherishes. He added, “Everybody say Blueprint, I love The Black Album. First time I heard ‘Encore’ I flipped out. I was probably in tenth grade playing that in class like ten times in a row. Mainly because he was saying he was on the verge of retiring, and then he just hit it in the clutch.”

Despite being a late adopter of Jay-Z, Kendrick now worships the ground that ‘Hov’ walks on. The illustrious duo worked together on a remix of ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe’, and Lamar even finished his acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards in 2018 by telling the crowd, “Jay for President”.

Kendrick Lamar favourite Jay-Z albums:

  • Reasonable Doubt
  • Blueprint
  • The Black Album