Skip to main content

Mos Def Knew Kendrick Lamar Would Be "The One" Years Ago

He was right.
DJBooth_logo2x

It’s something of a sport in hip-hop culture to have the insight into which artists are going to do great things. Of course, no one can outright predict an artist’s career trajectory, but the more one listens to and internalizes the greatest offerings to hip-hop, the more equipped one is to recognize traits that, given the right opportunity, could produce the next icon.

In a recent interview with Kendrick Lamar conducted by Dave Chappelle, Chappelle ends the interview by telling Kendrick he was first put on to his music years ago by none other than the artist formerly known as Mos Def, Yasiin Bey.

As a matter of fact, the first time I heard about you was through Mos [Def], who told me years ago, "You've got to watch this kid."

While Dave doesn’t specify how many years ago, given Mos' vast knowledge of hip-hop and music in general, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mos was up on Kendrick before many of us even knew his original stage name was K. Dot.

Scroll to Continue

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

5-Albums-Header--11-

5 New Albums You Need to Hear This Week

Selections include BIG30, Baby Tate, Kenny Mason, Show Dem Camp, and EKKSTACY.

am-world-top10-sept-16x9@2x

10 Rappers You Should Know Right Now

Our latest selections include Jay Fizzle, Goldenboy Countup, Sampa The Great, Philly Goats, and Pretty V.

Header--23-

How EKKSTACY Beat Writer’s Block to Make His Best Album

Pop anti-hero EKKSTACY finds his aggressive voice on his new album, 'misery.' He breaks down his journey through writer's block for Audiomack World.

Kendrick also revealed to Dave that Mos gave him “a lot of game early on,” which is certainly intriguing, but what really got me is the last line of the interview. Chappelle states, “He said to me that you're the one. Turns out he was right.”

Again, we don’t know how long ago a hip Mos hit up Dave with his grand appointment about Kendrick, but it was presented to Kendrick in a way that implies it was well before he reached anywhere near the heights he’s attained today. Mos Def clearly saw the same thing that many of us have seen during Kendrick’s rise to stardom, and pinpointed him as “the one.”

Describing the essence that leads an artist to become a voice for their generation is enough for 1,000 think-pieces that still won’t hit the nail on the head. All we know is that every once in a while an artist comes along that seems indescribably special. There are minds like Mos’ and storied star-scouters like Dr. Dre and Kanye West, however, who have managed to pluck probable greatness from a sea of voices.

When it comes to hip-hop icons, there’s a magical gumbo of ability, timing, and circumstance that allow one individual expression of the culture to stand out among the multiverse of possibilities, and the fact that Mos Def was able to pinpoint that happening before it fully arrived is a testament to his understanding of what makes someone great.

How Mos Def, or anyone else for that matter, is able to predict things like this, I’ll never understand—it’s why I’m not an A&R. All I know is I’m glad they exist, and I’m certainly glad Mos was right this time.

Related

Header--23-

How EKKSTACY Beat Writer’s Block to Make His Best Album

Pop anti-hero EKKSTACY finds his aggressive voice on his new album, 'misery.' He breaks down his journey through writer's block for Audiomack World.

Best-of-the-Week-Header--12-

5 Songs You Need to Hear: Best of the Week

Press play on new releases from GloRilla, Black Sherif, Protoje, Bella Shmurda, and Armani Caesar — available for stream on Audiomack.

Header--22-

Exploring Young Jonn’s Reinvention

Producer-turned-singer Young Jonn made a career of hits for African artists, now he's taking center stage. He breaks down his career journey for Audiomack.

5-Albums-Header--10-

5 New Albums You Need to Hear This Week

BigWalkDog, CKay, D-Block Europe, Nailah Blackman, and Muni Long all released new albums you need to hear.

Best-of-the-Week-Header--11-

5 Songs You Need to Hear: Best of the Week

Press play on new tunes from Wizkid, G Herbo, Ayra Starr, Kaash Paige, and Ayoni.

Header--21-

yvngxchris Went From Recording on Earbuds to Viral Star

Rapper yvngxchris started off making songs on iPhone earbuds. Now, he's signed and constantly going viral.