On Thursday night, two of hip-hop's visionaries minds met on BBC Radio 1. Flying Lotus, a producer at the forefront of the fusion of jazz and hip-hop, interviewed Kendrick Lamar about the influences behind his game-changing album, To Pimp a Butterfly.
It was a joy for Kendrick fans everywhere, but there was an even bigger surprise at the end of their conversation. Flying Lotus unveiled a previously unreleased collaboration between the two artists: a Kendrick verse over Flying Lotus' "Eyes Above." It shows exactly how these two are revolutionizing the genre.
A rich partnership. This is not the first Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar collaboration. The artists worked together previously on "Never Catch Me," another track that appears on Flying Lotus' latest album, You're Dead. Lamar was also initially slated to appear on "Eyes Above" for the album, but it had to be kept off for "political reasons," as Flying Lotus said in an interview with Pitchfork. FlyLo mourned it back in October:
Thankfully, the song is finally whole. And there may be more to come. Flying Lotus produced Lamar's "Wesley's Theory" — the epic opening track of To Pimp a Butterfly — and he says Lamar has a whole host of Flying Lotus beats to work with. "I don't know if he's going to use them or not, but he recorded a bunch of stuff," Flying Lotus told Pitchfork. "He took all my beats!"
None of their collaborations sound anything like mainstream hip-hop. As Lamar revealed in the BBC Radio 1 interview, this was precisely his new album's goal.
"Ideas and influences for this album was me collecting every little bit of music I've ever learned to live with and love from the day I was born. My father's influences, from oldies to gangsta rap," Lamar said. "I could have went in any direction with this album, you know, as far as a mainstream sound, or chasing a hit record. But my heart told me to do something different, do something that had a little bit more of a connection to it."
Lamar gave the same advice to his listeners: "Even if you don't do music, follow your heart, because it leads you into directions that you may not believe are possible. But when the opportunity presents itself, it'll put you in a place you can never imagine." Perhaps listeners will come to their equivalent of a record-breaking, career-defining, number one album.
Listen to the whole two-hour broadcast here, in which Flying Lotus explores all the musical influences Lamar drew from to create the album. The interview — which Flying Lotus introduces in a nearly identical manner to Lamar's album's Tupac interview — starts around 1:37:25.