T.I. Explains Why He Believes Kendrick Lamar Is “The Most Successful Revolutionary Rapper Alive”

Is K. Dot the best contemporary emcee at blending socially conscious topics with a commercial appeal?

Tip “T.I.” Harris irked a few people after the self-proclaimed King of the South made comments that were believed to be about the killing of King Von. The Atlanta representative somewhat walked back his statement, but he continues to address social issues like ending street violence. Promoting unity is one of the topics that was brought up during T.I.’s appearance on Apple Music’s The Message with Ebro Darden.

“I think of all the things that plague our communities, man, sticking together will solve 99% of it. I think the message has always been liberation. Just providing the info that could lead people to the understanding, ‘Hey, look, we’re going to have to come together if we’re going to overrun this,'” offered Tip.

He also discussed police brutality, Lil Baby’s well-received protest song “The Bigger Picture,” and the impact of N.W.A’s classic record “F### The Police.” In addition, Darden asked T.I. about Pulitzer Prize-winning Hip Hop artist Kendrick Lamar. The Grand Hustle leader mentioned the TDE star in relation to other legendary rappers and groups that are known to create socially conscious music.

“Present-day, I think he’s probably the most successful revolutionary rapper alive,” said The L.I.B.R.A. album creator about the Compton native also known as K. Dot. “It’s hard to sell. It’s hard to do good business in the revolutionary category. It’s not easy.”

T.I. continued, “Artists like KRS-One, even Common, Mos Def, The Roots, usually have to trade commercial success for speaking truth in the revolution. And Kendrick has been the one who has been able to simultaneously achieve both. And I think that’s extremely special. That’s an art within itself.”

After dropping his debut independent studio LP Section.80 in 2011, Kendrick Lamar went on to release the Interscope-backed good kid, m.A.A.d city, To Pimp a Butterfly, and Damn. All three of those projects have been certified at least Platinum by the RIAA and were nominated for Album Of The Year at the Grammys. The latter two won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.

To Pimp a Butterfly and Damn both debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 324,000 and 603,000 first-week units, respectively. Lamar also scored two more #1 albums with the Untitled Unmastered compilation and Black Panther: The Album soundtrack. Plus, his catalog contains two Number Ones on the Hot 100 chart, including the Damn single “Humble.”