The "real rap" answer to Drake and Future's What A Time To Be Alive has been gestating for just about as long as those two stars' chemistry, and like their more hedonistic counterparts, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole seem to have held out for a full-fledged collab project until they were both top-tier rappers. The two highly-regarded lyricists have been circling each other since Cole produced "HiiiPower" for Section.80, but despite continually hyping up their joint release, it wasn't until last Friday that they finally reconvened with a coordinated effort. Two "Black Friday" remixes arrived at the exact same time, each featuring one MC freestyling over a track from the other's most recent album. A unique move in hip hop, the strategy is most reminiscent of 7" split singles in punk rock, which can sometimes feature likeminded bands covering each others' material.
It was a perfect storm of excitement, both artists breaking the relative silence that followed their most critically-lauded albums to date, taking breaks from conceptual musings (for the most part) to just flat-out rap. And it all happened on a day during which most of us either sat in food-related comas or shopping-induced stupor. Couple that with a (Freudian?) slip from K Dot's sister, and the two God MCs' collab tape/album jumped from the realm of Madvillainy 2-level far-fetchedom back to the top of everyone's "most anticipated" lists.
As we did while waiting on pins and needles for To Pimp A Butterfly, we're going to reign in all of the wild speculation on the project, and instead turning a critical eye to the two most recent products from its creators. There's very little chance that we'll be seeing either freestyle on the tracklist, but giving each a closer look may provide a better idea of what we'll get if when these guys get around to dropping their full-length.