Ghostface Killah On Kendrick Lamar Collab: "I Ain't Take Him Lightly"

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Wu-Tang Clan And NAS Perform At The O2 Arena
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan performs at The O2 Arena on June 13, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Burak Cingi/Redferns)
Tony Starks brought his A-game.

Ghostface Killah is a legend in any time period. He's dominated other artists for over three decades, and he's gone head-to-head with the likes of Biggie and Nas. Ghost's reputation is bulletproof (insert wallets joke here), which would probably intimidate any rapper who attempted to collaborate with him. Kendrick Lamar is the exception to the rule, apparently. Ghostface Killah talked about his 2022 song with Lamar, "Purple Hearts," and how impressed he was with the latter's work ethic. He was so impressed, in fact, that he upped his game.

Ghostface recounted the collab during a recent appearance on the Juan Epstein podcast. He was asked about the Drake vs. Kendrick Lamar (because everybody is these days), and he redirected the convo to "Purple Hearts." The Wu-Tang rapper was "honored" to contribute to Lamar's double album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. "He put his call in and it was like, 'Yo, okay. This is one of them names,'" he recalled. "I ain’t take him lightly because his wordplay, his style, y’know what I mean? Now, I just gotta do what I feel."

Ghostface Killah Recorded A Back-Up Verse For K. Dot

Ghostface knew that he couldn't phone in a verse, however. He put down his bars for "Purple Hearts," then decided to write and record a second verse just in case. He wanted to make sure Lamar was happy with the final product, so he gave him multiple options. "[These young guys] can really, really rhyme," he explained. "That’s why when I did the record with Kendrick, it was like, 'Okay… I sat with it and was like — I sent him two verses. I sent him a 'just in case' one. Like, 'N**ga, if that don’t go, this one [will].'"

This isn't the first time Ghostface Killah has praised the Compton rapper. During a 2022 interview with Billboard, Ghost gave Kendrick Lamar his flowers and singled him out as one of the best of his generation along with J. Cole. "For a lot these [fans] in the younger generation, [their favorite], it’s either Kendrick or J. Cole," he noted. "I gave him his praises, and he boomeranged that sh*t back." This was well before the Big Three battle, but it's safe to assume Ghost's high opinion of Lamar is even higher now. The rapper's victory has even led to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers re-entering the Billboard 200.

About The Author
Danilo is a writer based out of San Diego. He graduated from the Art Institute of Tucson with a B.A. in digital media, and has since forged a career as a pop culture journalist. He covered hip-hop for, Rhyme Junkies and PopMatters prior to joining Danilo's top five is constantly changing, but Biggie and Slug from Atmosphere remain permanent fixtures. His favorite rap album of all time is "Late Registration" by Kanye West, and that stays the same.