Say what you will about Top Dawg Entertainment, but they know how to stretch out a good thing. Hip-hop’s hottest label is pairing its brightest star, Kendrick Lamar, with with their up and coming songstress, SZA, on the airy “Babylon,” the lead track off her debut album. The effect is, of course, mystical.
Being the top artist in TDE’s stable at the moment, Kendrick Lamar takes point on the track, bringing a flow similar to the one featured on his “Poetic Justice” collabo with Drake. The new version of “Babylon” comes to us by way of Direct Lyrics, and it is a reworking of the track released last month, tweaked to feature the multi-tempo verse from Lamar. It retains the spaced-out, mystical air of the original, though, as well as SZA’s breathy vocals and occasionally spooky lyrics.
Teaming with Kendrick for the track should turn out to be a solid move for SZA. The singer is Top Dawg’s sole female artist, and pairing up with the hottest emcee in rap right now will surely turn heads with her debut album, Z, hitting iTunes just last night. The Kendrick guest-spot has worked well for the label in the past, as TDE artist ScHoolboy Q’s recently released album shot to the top of the iTunes charts thanks in part to a multilingual appearance from Lamar on “Collard Greens.”
For Kendrick, the collabo is the latest in a string that has seen the Compton-born rapper teaming up with not just rappers, but a number of stars from other genres. Most recently, Lamar joined Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams for “It’s On Again,” the lead cut from the soundtrack for this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Prior to that, Kendrick joined Imagine Dragons for a breakout performance at this years Grammys and the requisite remix of “Radioactive.”
SZA’s album is just one in a series of releases that could mark TDE as the top label of 2014. In addition to Z and ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron, TDE will also push out releases from Jay Rock and Ab-Soul. Kendrick is almost certain to pop up on those releases, but fans of the rapper won’t just have to content themselves with guest spots. September, according to Top Dawg CEO Anthony Tiffith, will see the release of another Lamar album, a “darker” follow-up to Good Kid, m.A.A.d.city. What’s more, this year could also see the long-awaited release of a Black Hippy album, a collaborative effort featuring ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, and of course Kendrick.