Who’s the Better Storyteller: J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar?

I haven’t publicly come out and said this yet, but I’m a huge fan of the Joe Budden Podcast. On Episode 108 Joe Budden asks the question above, and honestly, I had to pause and write this post in response, before hearing their answers, because the question is just that good! I’m a huge Cole and Kendrick fan and have tickets to see both this summer, so I actually have to break this one down and analyze.

With the exclusion of their mixtapes, and strictly based on their released albums, I have to give it to J. Cole. BUT HERE’S WHY…I think of Kendrick Lamar as more of a reporter than a storyteller. When Cole raps a story it is as if I am transported to the moment and am going through it with him. When Kendrick strings together his bars I can feel the story, but I don’t envision it the same way. This is actually where I disagree with Joe Budden, which surprisingly rarely happens, but I think Kendrick is the more cursory storyteller. Let’s take Kendrick’s last album Damn., with the exclusion of “DUCKWORTH.” I felt more than I saw. In my opinion that is a key criterion when ranking a storyteller–how embedded am I in the story? Can I see what they saw AND is my skin on edge from feeling what they felt? I need both.

Now, take 4 Your Eyes Only. I know not everyone was a fan of the album, but I thought that it was a piece of storytelling genius. Not only did it feel like I was reading a book that I didn’t want to put down, but it’s the type of book that the movie would rarely live up to. It was riveting and bleed emotion. As far as telling a complete story, I don’t know an active artist that is touching Cole or Kendrick, maybe Big Sean, Lupe, Wale, or Drake, but I would give Cole the edge here.

Now if we’re talking best rapper, that’s not a debate I’m currently willing to entertain.

Do you agree or disagree? Check out the full podcast below:

-Ms. Malcolm Hughes


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