With all due respect to Tyler, The Creator, Vince Staples, Kevin Abstract and Cole Bennett, Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free, together known as The Little Homies, have the best creative vision in rap.
For the past four years, TDE's superstar MC and its label president have wowed fans by delivering one visual masterpiece after another, including, most recently, the GRAMMY-winning "HUMBLE.," as well as videos for "DNA.," "ELEMENT." and "LOYALTY."
Last week, following the release of the music video for Black Panther The Album inclusion "King's Dead," co-directed by The Little Homies and Jack Begert, Kendrick sat down with Billboard to discuss, among other things, how crucial visual arts have become to his brand and which veteran MCs served as the biggest cinematographic inspiration.
"I think from jump it's always been crucial to me," Kendrick told Billboard writer Carl Lamarre. "You know, just being a kid watching BET, I'd be on the phone with Dave, you know my partner that does the videos with me, and we'd be watching Missy Elliott videos back in high school and Busta Rhymes videos. They were always big inspirations."
For those who didn't grow up in the '90s, Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes—creatively speaking—were unrivaled when it came to visual mastery. For more than a decade, the pair authored up some of the most inventive, unique and memorable sets of visuals, constantly introducing new styles (Missy's garbage bag suit) and employing different techniques (Hype Williams using the Fisheye lens).
Since 2013, Lamar and Free have been behind the creative process and lens for 11 music videos. Expect that total, like the quality of their content, to increase in the years to come.