[listen] Kendrick Lamar feat. Jay-Z, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” (remix)

And the winner is us.

- Mar 18, 2013

Like the dope cover artwork suggests, Kendrick Lamar's remix of “Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe” featuring Jay Z is giving us an opportunity rarely found in professional sports: the chance to see the upstart and the master compete against other in a contest as exciting as each artist's talent is vast.

As Kobe surely would against Jordan, Kendrick brings new tricks for the match-up, swapping out whole verses for new ones that are just as introspective and bombastic as on the original, but with a palpable vigor that tones down his esoteric side so anyone can hear why he deserves this collab. And it's stunning, really. He's a strong rapper because, like Jay-Z, his flow is his story; you get the sense that even someone with the same brain and background couldn't write what he is with the same strength. But this isn't the passing of the torch; despite confessing “I don't know how many moons a nigga got left,” Jay-Z's verse is huge. Lines like “Sitting next to Hillary smelling like dank” speaks to both his current “Obama on speed dial” living and what helped get him there. Despite the competition inherent in any decent rap collab, this feels downright ceremonial for Kendrick: the masters coast to coast are recognizing his talent, and it's hard to think of another time when it's felt this important.

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