As someone who writes about hip-hop, most of my thoughts about the hip-hop are based in reality. The news cycle, upcoming projects, poignant interviews—there's little time for speculation when there's a never-ending stream of important content worthy of my time and energy. Sometimes, though, it’s just fun to light a spliff and let the mind wander into “what if” territory.
This morning I was thinking about hip-hop (surprise) and some of my favorite contributors at the moment. Kendrick Lamar immediately came to mind as someone who continues to impress and push the culture forward, and given the fact that I was bumping Rapsody’s new Crown EP at the time, my thoughts then quickly turned to the current woman of the hour.
Listening to one of the standout tracks, “OooWee” featuring Anderson .Paak, all I could think about was how well the two meshed, and I started pondering some possible collaborative possibilities. Then, like a bolt of lightning, Kendrick Lamar popped back up into my dome and holy shit, can you imagine the three of them together?
Supergroups are one of my favorite musings when it comes to hip-hop, akin to assembling a fantasy football team, but with the end game being utter musical domination. The prospect of Kendrick, Rapsody and .Paak forming a trio, while technically within the realm of possibility, is impossibly unlikely at best. On paper, though, it's a match made in Rap Heaven.
We already know the three have chemistry, as they have all worked with each other. Rapsody’s appearance on “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” from Kendrick’s TPAB was a highlight moment on maybe the best album of last year, and hearing Kendrick and .Paak appearing back to back on “Deep Water” from Dr. Dre’s Compton left everyone hungry for more.
Lyrically, the three of them would match perfectly. Themes of love, unity, and Afrocentricity permeate the content of all three, all with a similar undertone of no-bullshit lying just beneath their sermons.
They’re all dreamers still deeply rooted in reality, their visions of grandeur a summation of past tribulations and a sense of self-worth that carries with it the benefits of confidence without the perils of arrogance, even at their most braggadocious.
From a sonic standpoint, Kendrick, Rapsody and Anderson definitely have some musical overlap. Funk and soul influences run deep with the three artists, and none of them are afraid to take risks in the effort of broadening the culture and their own understanding of music.
Speaking of the culture, all three of these artists have a die-hard loyalty to hip-hop, and their contributions speak to that. Anything these three put together would be with a full understanding of the weight of their respective involvement and what it could possibly do to push the culture forward.
From every perspective, this is the perfect supergroup waiting to happen, a modern-day Fugees in the hypothetical making. If that comparison seems bold, just consider what these artists have already accomplished in their careers, and what they could achieve together. The more I write, the less this seems like the wishful thinking of a fan, and more like a legitimate alliance that could shake the genre to its core. Unlike a Kendrick and Cole or a Kanye and Drake situation, label dynamics are promising (Kendrick and .Paak are now on the same label), NxWorries proves .Paak is willing to collaborate (at least with producers), and Rapsody's got some Dr. Dre connections herself.
Alas, this is a musical gift we’re unlikely to ever receive. What we will receive, however, is fantastic music from Kendrick, Rapsody, and Anderson individually, hopefully, peppered with the occasional mind-blowing collaboration from different iterations of the supergroup that never was. In a reality where things don’t happen just because they should, that’s plenty.
But, what if…