I've seen it happen up close. Artists work together frequently, become something like friends, then one blows up and suddenly text messages asking to collaborate go unanswered. Or a guest verse is promised but the weeks tick by with nary a bar to be heard.
"This Tuesday." For some reason it's always, "I'm hitting the studio this Tuesday and I got you." Or the verse was recorded but the engineer has the files and he left his hard drive at his house and his car broke down and blah blah blah. There are war treaties that have been easier to negotiate than the often hidden guest verse process.
That's why it kind of warmed the dark basement of my music industry heart to read BJ The Chicago Kid explain how easy it still is for him to work with Kendrick Lamar. In an annotation on Genius for his new song with K. Dot, "The New Cupid," he wrote:
Kendrick is one of the easiest artists to actually get a verse from when it comes to me. Some people take forever and a day. He gets it back to me. Let’s me know when he can do and he delivers on time. Everytime. And that’s from day one. I can’t be mad. That’s just he’s still riding with a real one. I think that’s why he rocks with me. Creatives want to be around creative people. - BJ the Chicago Kid
Kendrick and BJ's relationship goes back a long, long way - a lot of people forget that "His Pain" was actually a song for BJ's 2012 Pineapple Now & Laters album - so it's great to know that even as Kendrick becomes a certified mainstream superstar he's still not only down to work with his longtime friends, but actually delivers on his promises, and that's not a small deal.
It's not just that artists get all "new number who dis?" once they get big, although that certainly happens. Pressures mount, schedules get packed, and even with the best of intentions, there's suddenly a world of label business standing in the way. Jay Z once tried to give Talib Kweli a verse for free only to have Dame Dash and Roc-A-Fella block it.
So Kendrick continuing to make space in his life and career to remain connected to artists like BJ the Chicago Kid, who he's worked with repeatedly, isn't some light work, it takes real intention and effort. If only more rappers of all statures had Kendrick's intentions.