Get excited, hip-hop heads: Two of the genre’s most singular forces could have a collaboration in the works. The latest issue of GQ Style brings together rapper Kendrick Lamar and superproducer Rick Rubin for a conversation — and the chat, which took place at Rubin’s famed Shangri La studios in Malibu, concludes on an enticing note.
“Let’s check out this space, man!” Lamar tells Rubin. “I’m in a creative zone!” When Rubin clarifies Lamar’s meaning — “Should we go inside and record?” — the MC simply replies, “Exactly.”
Though Rubin has worked with artists from Adele to Weezer, hip-hop has always been his calling card. He rose to prominence in the ’80s through his work with the Beastie Boys, and has more recently teamed with the likes of Jay Z and Kanye West.
Beyond the possibility of a collaboration, Lamar shares other interesting tidbits with Rubin in the conversation. When Rubin asks Lamar about the jazz aesthetic of 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly, the rapper provides a fascinating answer. “I was in the studio one day, and my [collaborator] Terrace Martin noticed something about the type of sounds that I was picking,” Lamar explains. “He was like, ‘Man, a lot of the chords that you pick are jazz-influenced. You don’t understand: You a jazz musician by default.’ And that just opened me up. And he just started breaking down everything, the science, going back to Miles, Herbie Hancock.”
Hancock praised Lamar in Genius annotations, which footnote the story. “Kendrick and I have met a couple of times and we agree on a lot of things, about music and about life,” Hancock wrote A whole new movement in jazz has been advanced to a great degree through Kendrick’s music.”
Rubin also asks whether Lamar’s next album will continue Butterfly‘s aesthetic or forge a new path. “The best answer I can give you, um… That was me then,” Lamar says. “It’ll always have some type of DNA in my music. But me, as a person, I grow. I’m like a chameleon.”
For the complete conversation between Lamar and Rubin — which also touches on Eminem’s influence and the making of “Alright” — see the full video interview.