Twitter can be an unforgiving place, but only as unforgiving as you allow it to be.
Tyler, The Creator, Action Bronson and Lil Yachty have all had old tweets dug up from their pre-fame grave that made things awkward at best and burned bridges at worst. Or, in Troy Ave’s case, have done nothing to suggest he’s less of a terrible human being than we already suspected.
However, diving through the Twitter archives can also take us back to a more charming period in an artist’s history, unearthing precious artifacts from a time when these Platinum-selling superstars with millions of followers were just like any other aspiring rapper trying to make some power moves through Twitter.
Last night, DJ Z stumbled across (or should I say searched for, because he’s weird like that) these tweets from Kendrick Lamar addressed to 9th Wonder from August 2010, just weeks before Overly Dedicated dropped. The tweets capture the moment the young, hungry rapper very politely and passionately asked the revered producer for a beat so he could “prove he’s capable of rockin’ over a 9th joint,” a true test for any emcee.
“This is the first time me seeing this tweet,” 9th Wonder says, surprised, over the phone when we show him Kendrick’s old messages. “Yo, that’s crazy. That’s seven years ago!”
What’s even crazier is that Kendrick, unbeknownst to him at the time, would meet 9th Wonder in person exactly one day after sending those tweets. According to 9th, Fashawn’s manager introduced him to K. Dot, along with ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, at the 2010 Rock The Bells festival in San Bernardino, which took place on August 21.
Of course, like most of the rap internet, 9th was already aware of who Kendrick was at the time, but he says it was dope to get a chance to chop it up with the future king of Compton. “We were sitting there talking and [Kendrick] was like, ‘we’re fans, man.’ I’m like, ‘this is dope,’ because I was happy at the time to be able to affect the next generation like that.”
The two stayed in touch and, months later, Kendrick had his wish granted to rock (and indeed prove himself) over a 9th joint—two, in fact. “I sent him a beat for a group I got called Actual Proof, they had a song called ‘Super Genius,’ he’s on that,” 9th explains. “I sent him another joint for The Wonder Years called ‘Enjoy’ with him, Murs and Warren G. Anything I would send him, he would jump on it. He was like, ‘yeah man, send it to me, I’ll jump on it!’”
Although Kendrick Lamar and 9th Wonder’s collaborations have been slim in the years since—Terrace Martin’s 2013 cut “Triangle Ship” being only the third and final song they’ve worked on together—their relationship is built on more than business. “Our connection is just the music, man," 9th says.
In 2013, the day after “Control” dropped, Kendrick requested Rapsody—9th’s longtime protégé and Jamla signee—to appear on To Pimp a Butterfly’s “Complexion (A Zulu Love).” She delivered the only non-Kendrick verse on the entire album, which was no doubt a catalyst in turning six years of hard work into a deal with Roc Nation.
Meanwhile, 9th Wonder, who’s a Harvard University Fellow at The Dubois Institute, recently put forward Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly to be archived in the Harvard Library alongside other hip-hop classics like Nas’ Illmatic, Tribe’s The Low End Theory and Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. In other words, Kendrick went from tweeting at 9th Wonder to being studied by 9th Wonder in the span of seven years.
You get the feeling 9th isn’t too surprised by this, though. “I’m big on just talking about music with cats, to find out where they are in the scope of success: do you want to be famous and rich? Or do you really want to affect the music? Talking to [Kendrick], he wanted to really affect the music,” he recalls.
Twitter, like Kendrick Lamar’s career (and method of sourcing beats), has changed drastically over the last seven years. But there’s also a lot that’s stayed the same. Kendrick is still a humble, hungry rapper who treasures co-signs from his OGs (see: Dr. Dre, Eminem, Jay Z) while Twitter remains a powerful tool for connecting artists and producers (see: Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge or Westside Gunn and The Alchemist).
The rest, as Kendrick Lamar figured out, is up to you. Just never be afraid to shoot your shot.
By Andy James. You can follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credits: Reebok / Tumblr