King Kendrick vs. Cole World – Who’s The Real Hip Hop Saviour?

By Sumit Rehal

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At the turn of the decade, hip hop was in somewhat of a state of emergency. A few years prior, Nas had already claimed that hip hop is dead and the world was desperately crying for a new God MC to resurrect the game once again.

J. Cole finally released his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story in 2011 following a trilogy of groundbreaking mixtapes that made a name for himself. Hip Hop fans felt that a true rapper had finally returned to the mainstream but knew there were still not enough top players to compete with the young MC.

Then along came Kendrick Lamar, who made his major label debut with Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and instantly won the hearts of the hip hop faithful through his unique flows, clever lyrics, high range and compelling performances.

Today, Highlight Nation will compare the two elites through these four attributes to help us conclude who is the better hip hop artist.


The two rappers have a taste for remaining clear as day regardless of what cadence they use. In an age of mumble rap, you can always hear the clarity in the voice of Cole and Kendrick, whether it’s a party track or a slow jam.

Cole manages to create catchy earworms with his flow, which exemplifies in No Role Modelz (She’s shaalloooooow).

This is in contrast to Kendrick’s more constant switch up of flows in the majority of tracks that he spits on. One prime example of this is in Rigamortis where he manages to keep channelling a flow in new ways on an off key beat.


There will never be enough appreciation for the conscious lyrical content of both rappers in an age of hip hop exploitation on materialism. Cole has hit the soul of many with tracks such as Love Yourz and January 28th, while Kendrick has sent social statements from HiiiPoWeR to How Much Does A Dollar Cost? (Barack Obama’s favourite song of 2015)

It’s not only the message of the two that makes them unique but the way they deliver it. Cole manages to send a message through relatable words that the listener can resonate with. Take an example below in January 28th.

“Don’t give ’em too much you
Don’t let ’em take control
It’s one thing you do
Don’t let ’em taint your soul
If you believe in God
One thing’s for sure
If you ain’t aim too high
Then you aim too low”

Kendrick on the other hand has an art of storytelling that he has taken on inspiration from Eminem through the extended metaphor. An example is when Kendrick uses the imagery of a homeless man to represent God, in How Much Does A Dollar Cost?

“Walked out the gas station
A homeless man with a semi-tan complexion
Asked me for ten rand, stressin’ about dry land
Deep water, powder blue skies that crack open
A piece of crack that he wanted, I knew he was smokin’
He begged and pleaded
Asked me to feed him twice, I didn’t believe it
Told him, “Beat it”
Contributin’ money just for his pipe, I couldn’t see it
He said, “My son, temptation is one thing that I’ve defeated
Listen to me, I want a single bill from you
Nothin’ less, nothin’ more”
I told him “I ain’t have it” and closed my door
Tell me how much a dollar cost”


Kendrick has gained notoriety for contributing to songs where his voice is almost unrecognisable, whether it’s a high pitched crackle on “i” or a deep feature on ScHoolboy Q’s (no typo) Black Thoughts, which Q calls “Kendrick’s Lord of the Rings voice”. K Dot can kill a party anthem, a jazz record, a boom bap banger and a pop hit (Bad Blood anyone?).

Cole has also been able to match his counterpart on versatility as both of them can sing and play with their voice. In some of Cole’s music, we don’t even hear him rapping such as in Intro. One major skill that the North Carolinian has over Dot when it comes to range is that he can produce and has produced some major anthems at that. Cole has even produced for Kendrick on HiiiPoWer!


The staff here at Highlight Nation have been fortunate enough to have seen both of these superstars perform live. The common factor that they both had is that they were able to really connect with the crowd and make them feel part of a spectacle rather than just spit their greatest hits.

Cole performed the entirety of his 2014 Forest Hills Drive album from start to finish while Kendrick spoke to members of the audience and even invited some lucky people to come on stage and try their hand at freestyling!

Cole sent shivers around the world in his first time performance of Be Free, sending a powerful cry to the world about social justice in the USA.

It is however the Californian who pips the performance section for his showcase at the 2016 Grammys itself by not holding back and still sending a controversial statement on the biggest stage of them all.


J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar have both seen unprecedented success in only half a decade of breaking through commercially. Both have had number one albums on the Billboard 200, both have a cult following from all demographics worldwide and both continue to develop themselves and not remain stagnant.

This year, the two have received two individual allocates that plant them in the history books of the greatest in the modern era. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive went 2 x Platinum with no features while Kendrick received 5 Grammy Awards after breaking the record for most nominations for a hip hop artist in one year with 11 (Only Michael Jackson has more).

So who is the true saviour? Vote on our poll below and we will announce the winner on our social media!

[wpdevart_poll id=”1″ theme=”1″]

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