At this rate, there are few rappers in the world who Eminem hasn’t influenced; which is why it wasn’t surprising to hear that Kendrick Lamar studied Em and his style closely as a teenager.
In an interview with GQ conducted by Def Jam co-founder and music legend Rick Rubin, Kendrick said this after Rubin called him “a throwback to when lyrics mattered.”:
“The clarity, I got my clarity just studying Eminem when I was a kid. How I got in the studio was all just curiosity. I had a love for the music, but it was curiosity. The day I heard The Marshall Mathers LP, I was just like, How does that work? What is he doing? How is he putting his words together like that? What’s the track under that? An ad-lib? What is that? And then, Why don’t you go in the studio and see? So I do that. Then it became, How’s his words cutting through the beat like that? What is he doing that I’m not doing, now that I’m into it? His time is impeccable. When he wants to fall off the beat, it’s impeccable. These are things that, through experience and time, I had to learn.”
Eminem himself took kindly to that during a Genius annotation session, where he laid out his thoughts on Kendrick:
“When I first heard Kendrick’s debut on Aftermath, I couldn’t believe it. The fact that it was his first real album and he was able to make it into a story which intertwines with the skits like that was genius. That hasn’t really been done that many times, let alone on someone’s first time up. The level of wordplay, the deliveries, the beats—it’s just a masterpiece.”
Eminem established his legendary status long ago, so like other legends before him, it’s always nice to see a passing of the torch. The interview also features annotations from jazz legend Herbie Hancock and activist Deray McKesson, which you can check out here.