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

He was right.

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.



Maxo Kream, Ari Lennox & Syd: Best of the Week

Maxo Kream, Ari Lennox, Syd, and more had the best new songs on Audiomack this week.


5 New Albums You Need to Hear This Week

Baby Keem, María Isabel, Deb Never, Yeat, and Tony Seltzer all have albums you need this week on Audiomack.


The World Belongs to Show Dem Camp

With nine projects in 11 years, Show Dem Camp has become a crucial voice in Nigeria’s contemporary music scene. They break it down for Audiomack.

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.



Why Kendrick Lamar's New Album Is Guaranteed to Be a Success

The TDE emcee's place among hip-hop’s elite is already solidified, which means he can do whatever the fuck he wants.


U & I: The Universal Value in Kendrick Lamar's Self-Expression

“At the end of the day, the music isn't for me."


Every Kendrick Lamar 2016 Guest Verse, Ranked

2016 has been a banner year for Kendrick Lamar guest features, so it's only right we ranked them all.


Kendrick Lamar's 'TPAB' Among Hip-Hop Classics to Be Archived in Harvard Library

9th Wonder continues to ensure hip-hop has its rightful place in the history books.


Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar & the Death of the "Rapper"

Why doesn't anyone want to be a rapper anymore?


Imagining a Kendrick Lamar, Rapsody & Anderson .Paak Supergroup

This would be an absolutely historic hip-hop alliance. Let's think about it.