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An Insanely In Depth Breakdown of the Kendrick vs. Jay-Z / Kobe vs. Jordan ComparisonPosted by Nathan S. on 03/19/13 | Filed under Top Stories, Opinion, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z
So when the "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe (Remix)" art work dropped, I couldn't help but start to break down the Kendrick/Jay-Z vs. Kobe/Jordan parallels. And then RefinedHype Nation just straight up asked for an article:
@refinedhype I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Kobe/MJ to Kendrick/Hova parallels— Zach Wallace (@ziwallace) March 18, 2013
Well then, your wish is my command. Let's do the damn thing:
First and foremost, the Jay-Z and Jordan parallel is perfect in almost every way. In fact, it might just be the best rap-sports parallel in all of rap-sports. Jordan is the unquestioned GOAT, and there's no argument that if we're factoring in both skill and success, Jay is the GOAT.
Jordan won six championships, 5 MVP's and transcended basketball to become the game's first truly global brand. Jay-Z has sold 50 million albums, won 17 Grammys, and transcended hip-hop to become the game's first truly global brand.
Both coupled their innate talent with an intensely methodical approach, demanded greatness of everyone around them, and were possessed with an almost obsessive desire to win; if winning meant destroying other people's careers in the process, then so be it. Oh, and both "retired", only to predictably un-retire when they couldn't ignore that aforementioned obsessive desire to succeed.
And if that wasn't enough, both have proven to be surprisingly bad at running teams/labels. Jordan's tenure with the Bobcats has been borderline disastrous, and while Jay's tenure at Def Jam and now Roc Nation haven't been nearly as bad, he also hasn't been able to succeed on the level many expected. Jordan and Jay are incredible at making themselves great, but that doesn't necessarily translate into the ability to make others great.
Michael Jeffrey Jordan is Shawn Corey Carter, he just happened to play basketball instead of rap (and vice-versa). End of story.
Kendrick and Kobe, on the other hand, are almost nothing alike. First and foremost, Kobe is built much like Jordan. He's filled with a nearly homicidal desire to win and destroy his competition, and he approaches his craft methodically and intensely. He's a basketball robot, seemingly never tiring, constantly analyzing and tweaking his game.
Kendrick's style, on the other hand, is much more experimental and improvisational. We've never really heard anyone rap like Kendrick before, and we probably never will again. His approach to music feels less methodical and analytical and much more reliant on pure, raw talent.
In that sense, the first basketball player that comes to mind is Iverson. In addition to being undersized (like Kendrick), Iverson's game was explosive and deeply improvisational. You never knew what he was going to do from one second to the next: he might lower his shoulder and drive hard to the rim ("Backseat Freestyle"), he may stay on the perimeter, showcase his handle, and then drain a fluid jumper ("Money Trees").
So if this could have more accurately been the "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe (Remix)" cover, then this moment is the basketball version of the song:
"A lot of guys, when you see guys that you looked up to, they shy away from the challenge. And I just took it on." That quote might as well have been Kendrick talking about the "Vibe (Remix)". Like the moment Iverson shook Jordan, it's nearly impossible to listen to this track and not feel like the torch is being passed, although it's crucial to remember that the Bulls went on to beat the Sixers in that game due largely to Jordan's 40 plus points. In other words, Kendrick might have bested Jay-Z on this track, but there's still really no question about who the King is.
Of course Kendrick isn't nearly as brash, and as much of a loose cannon as Iverson was, but for now I think that's about the best sports-rap parallel we're going to get.
So to summarize, Jay-Z is the Michael Jordan of rap, Kendrick is the Iverson of rap, and the "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe (Remix)" is the game when a young Iverson crossed over an aging Jordan.
Hold on, let me think it over...yep, I'm pretty happy with that sports-rap breakdown. Let the debate being.