10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

BYLaroche Cineus27.2K Views
Link Copied to Clipboard!
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

We pick some of the most notable tracks Kendrick Lamar has blessed with a verse.

What do you say to someone overtly braggadocious, someone who professes to be the greatest, someone who thinks a little too highly of his or herself? “Bitch be humble, sit down!"

These words are now cemented in time, as a reminder from Kendrick Lamar that we could all use a little humility. Kendrick would probably be the first to take his own advice, too, reminding himself there is more work to be done before going down as one of the greats. Although, he’s well on his way-- the internet is already littered with thinkpieces about how much of a GOAT K. Dot is.

We’ve seen artists reinvent themselves with alter egos, as a form of separation of self. Kendrick has mastered this skill to the utmost, whether it be through his use of different voices and cadences, or his multifaceted subject matter and lyrical content (both ratchet and righteous, to borrow a quote from Charlamagne Tha God), or else his nicknames, Kung Fu Kenny, K. Dot, and Kendrick Lamar all representing different versions of the same self. Kendrick brings this same spark of both reinvention and experimentation not only to his series of albums, but to his featured appearances. You never quite know what Kenny you’ll get, will he snap on a flow yet unheard, using a chipmunk-like voice, school us on socio-economics?

Kendrick’s genius compositional skills are one to be studied-- but we’ll save that for another time, another essay. He carries the same meticulous nature when crafting a large bodies of work as he does on a smaller stage, simply lending his talent on featured appearances.

We wish we could include every single feature that Kendrick has been on, but that would defeat the purpose of this list. We’ve narrowed it down what we deem to be the 10 best Kendrick Lamar featured appearances. We're presenting them in no particular order.

We're sure you have an opinion - what're we missing here? Let us know your favourite Kung Fu Kenny feature in the comments.


ScHoolboy Q f/ Kendrick Lamar "Collard Greens"

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: Oxymoron

Producer: Gwenn Bunn & T.H.C

Which one of your favourite rapper starts off their verse in Spanish, then proceeds to body the entire verse? We’ll wait. Like many of us, Kendrick’s Spanish bars also caught ScHoolboy Q by surprise. In an interview with MTV Q admits: “I have no idea what he said[...] And I had no idea he was gonna do that. I remember seeing him talking to a Spanish dude while he was writing it and he came up with that and I was very upset because he killed it.” We’ve stayed getting great music from the TDE camp, it’s always pleasant seeing them collaborate with one another because we can really feel the chemistry they have on each song, it’s more than just a feature, it’s family.

What's your favourite TDE collaboration?

Quotable Lyrics

And I'm more than a man, I'm a God
Bitch, touché, en garde
Toupée drop and her two tits pop
Out of that tank top and bra
And when I say "Doo-doo, doo-doo," bitch, that be K. Dot

A$AP Rocky f/ Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz & Drake “Fuckin Problems”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: LONG.LIVE.A$AP

Producer: Noah “40” Shebib & Drake

At one point or another you know you wanted to exclaim “Girl, I know you want this dick!” with the same energy. Especially with the fact of “Fucking Problems” was unavoidable the year it released, we couldn’t get it out of our head, nor did we want to. A$AP Rocky’s attention to sound is impeccable, he was not only able to envision, but assimilate, the likes of Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick for this song. Each provides their own flare to their verse, and it’s always nice to have some of that Ratchet Kendrick peak through.

Quotable Lyrics

She eyein' me like a nigga don't exist
Girl, I know you want this dick
Girl, I'm Kendrick Lamar
A.K.A. Benz is to me just a car

Dr. Dre f/ Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak & Justus “Deep Water”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: Compton

Producer: Dem Jointz, Cardiak, Focus…, Dr. Dre & DJ Dahi

Most artists have a goal, at some point, to work with, or better yet, be mentored by, someone they looked up to when they were struggling, someone who influenced them in such a major way. It doesn’t always happen though, and in Hip-Hop, to draw from Rick Ross, we’re often see an idol turned to the competition. In Kendrick Lamar’s case, however, we’ve seen those greats that preceded him welcome him with open arms, and help him lift his craft to another plane. Of course, we mean Dr. Dre, but West Coast OGs as a whole have symbolically passed the torch down to Kendrick -- we’re talking The Game, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Daz, and Warren G. In an interview with Complex in 2011, Lamar spoke on the nature of his relationship with Dr. Dre: “Dre and I have a personal relationship. In the first studio session, we clicked so crazy. It was more like a uncle-nephew kind of vibe. Because everybody sees Dre as just a gangsta rapper, but he shares the same story that I have, a good kid in a mad city.”

Quotable Lyrics

I'm a C-O-M-P-T-O-innovator, energizer
Inner-city bullet fly 'til that bitch on auto pilot

Ab-Soul f/ Kendrick Lamar “Illuminate”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: Control System

Producer: Skhye Hutch

We’ll just continue to satiate ourselves with old Black Hippy collaborations, because the crew may never really release an entire collaborative album (or another collaborative track for that matter?!). We couldn’t avoid spinning this record back one time to remind you of the beautiful union that is any Black Hippy member coming together on a track. You can hear the competitive nature between the two, forcing each other to come with their A-game, respectively. It is easily one of the standouts on Ab-Soul’s Control System album. The attitude both Kendrick and Soul carry throughout the track speaks to the legacy in which they are hoping to leave behind. This legacy involves being true, in every context of the word, to themselves, and to the craft.  And while others might want to copy what these two are doing, they don’t let this flattery slow them, they’re already onto the next stage, continuously evolving.

Quotable Lyrics

Black on black tint like Kinte Kunta
Black is back, bitch, I'm kin to Kunta
Black-on-black crime resent the shooter
Blat, blat, blat! I intend to mute ya

Drake f/ Kendrick Lamar “Buried Alive Interlude”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: Take Care

Producer: Supa Dups & Noah “40” Shebib

Kendrick’s comfort in being vulnerable on any track often draws us in. We love to see these artists as bigger than life, but this openness he showcases here definitely humanizes him. In his feature, a stand out on Drake's Take Care and a verse that definitely brought Kendrick more attention than he had previously (at the time), K Dot addresses his fears, concerns, and generally, experiences, within the music industry and all the trappings that come with it.

Quotable Lyrics

React like an infant whenever you are mentioned
Mind over matter never worked for my nemesis
I'm in the matter of man arm wrestlin' hands I was dealt
When I said the music business was all I needed”

ASAP Rocky f/ Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, YelaWolf, BIG K.R.I.T & Danny Brown “1Train”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: LONG.LIVE.A$AP

Producer: Hit-Boy 

Trying to contain oneself at the sight of the features on “1Train” requires self-control. A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar already had a banger with “Fucking Problems,” but they had to fuck our speakers up some more with this one. In an interview with Hot 97 Rocky explains his reasoning for bringing together this diverse list of upcoming artists (at the time), as wanting to “make the perfect pose-cut of 2013” and “bringing that feeling back.” A$AP Rocky didn’t fail in his efforts. Kendrick blacked out on this verse, spitting to his last breath, it seems, and we love that strained and possessed tone, as if he just snapped into another state of consciousness, but sadly that was the end of his verse. Which only leaves you wanting more. It definitely would not have had the same impact, and been the "perfect posse cut" Rocky was hoping for, without Kendrick among the guests.

Quotable Lyrics

I carry traits of a traumatized soldier
Don't look in my face, I might snap, I might choke ya
Spine right out of place, give me dap like you 'posed ta

The Game f/ Kendrick Lamar “The City”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: The R.E.D. Album

Producer: Cool & Dre

Before we can talk about this Kendrick verse on The Game’s “The City,” we have to speak about Kendrick’s second verse on “Black Boy Fly” from Good Kid, m.A.A.d City. Kendrick admits the jealously that lay in his heart when seeing many others make it out of the city of Compton before him, while he pondered on how to do the same. While Kendrick admits to this jealousy and fear, he champions Aaron Affalo and The Game for their accomplishments and showing him the way to fly, highlighting the determination they had that drove them to try to shoot for something higher than this sense of stagnation that cripples many in the city.

Though "The City" came out before Kendrick released “Black Boy Fly,” hearing the two on "The City,” and then viewing the former track as a prologue, makes you want to rejoice as Kendrick was able to join the select few that we’re indeed able to fly. While, at the time, this placement was one of Lamar’s high-profile features, we’ve watched Kendrick continue to fly, but he hasn’t forgotten about his city, as it lives through his music and he carries that with him (also, remember that time he literally flew through the city of Compton for the "Alright" music video?).

Quotable Lyrics

I'm addicted to Westsidin'
Livin' in a city where the skinny niggas die
And the semi bullets fly, but it turned me to a lion

Flying Lotus f/ Kendrick Lamar “Never Catch Me”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: You’re Dead!

Producer: Flying Lotus

As an artist, one can’t be afraid to be uncomfortable or make the listener uncomfortable. Though hip-hop is subject to touch on issues such as death and violence, it's often in the context of the environment they grew up in, an uncontrollable circumstance. In terms of an internal struggle, grappling with one’s mortality and revealing much about one's mental state, we haven’t really heard a song that is as truthful as "Never Catch Me," where it leaves us in a state of existential dread, since Biggie’s "Suicidal Thoughts." Kendrick has never shied away from sharing dark thoughts, fears, concerns. We can view this as a driving force for Lamar’s more than honest, and introspective, verse on the Flying Lotus-produced track. The subject matter is much in line with the theme of the album You’re Dead, which he speaks to HipHopDx as “not just being a commentary on life but a commentary on the next life.” With “Never Catch Me” as the climax and initial moment of death on the album, there couldn't be anyone better to deliver such a harsh truth than Kendrick himself.

Quotable Lyrics

Reminisce on my wonder years and I wonder here
Sentiments of my words ain't been so sincere
The sentiment of my nerves that I just persevere
The big thought of fallin' off disappeared to my fate 

Pusha T f/ Kendrick Lamar “Nosetalgia”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: My Name Is My Name

Producer: Nottz & Kanye West

“You wanna see a dead body?” Kendrick is foreshadowing what he’s intending to do to this song, and his opening line is a memorable one. The hoarse tone to Kendrick’s voice is chilling as he starts his verse. One thing we’ve come to expect from Kendrick Lamar’s writing is a sense of realism, an ability to capture and paint a picture of his surroundings, mainly life in Compton, and the experiences that have made him. Paying close attention to Kendrick’s technical skills and storytelling ability, you’ll see why he’s more than just an MC, but a true author.

Quotable Lyrics

When I was ten, back when nine ounces had got you ten
And nine times out of ten, niggas don't pay attention
And when there's tension in the air, nines come with extensions”

Big Sean f/ Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica “Control”

10 Best Kendrick Lamar Features

Album: None

Producer: No I.D.

The same flow that put the rap game on a crutch resulted in the same song that put the rap game in a chokehold. Rolling Stone dubbed this as one of the most important moments of the decade. Kendrick is easily a lyrical menace bodying any and everyone on a track, and in this case, the blast radius extends to everyone in hip-hop. It was enough, as well, to elicit a response from everyone in hip-hop (basically). We got to see rappers come out the woodwork, some not even mentioned by name, who were brave enough to try and take Kendrick down a notch. This competitive nature is needed within hip-hop because it pushes boundaries, and we thank Kendrick for continuously wanting to push these boundaries and see the genre take on new forms, while not neglecting the foundation it was built on.

It’s been a good few years since Kendrick had the game in an uproar, do you feel as though this was what was needed to challenge artists to create something different? Let us know how you feel about how this song ultimately impacted the culture.

Quotable Lyrics

I'm usually homeboys with the same niggas I'm rhymin' with
But this is hip-hop, and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale
Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all, but I'm tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They don't wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas

About The Author