Kendrick Lamar & Kobe Bryant Talk Career Growth & Defining 'Greatness' at Complexcon 2017

Kobe Bryant and Kendrick Lamar
Courtesy Photo

Kobe Bryant and Kendrick Lamar at ComplexCon 2017.

Kendrick Lamar has long landed himself in the thick of "best rapper alive" conversations, since his debut and has cemented his place among the greats in hip-hop. In the same vein, conversations about the greatest players in basketball almost always include former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and in a recent sit-down at Complexcon 2017, Lamar and Bryant discussed what makes them both so great and how they've grown in their respective fields. 

When Bryant was asked about the difference between himself as a young player wearing the No. 8 jersey and the mature player wearing No. 24 -- which he wore up until his retirement in April 2016 -- he said he believes they are two completely different entities.

"It's crystal clear to me because it's almost two different people in a sense. Having a certain mentality of coming into the league where you’re literally head-hunting everyone," he said. "Because it’s your time to establish yourself and say, ‘No, I belong here.’ As a result, everybody must go and then when you hit a certain maturity level, which is where 24 is, it becomes less about your self-domination and how can I help others grow."

Next, Lamar was asked about the distinction between his own personas, K. Dot and his newly adopted alter ego, Kung Fu Kenny. Lamar echoed the same sentiments as Kobe and said there's a "big difference" between the two characters, adding that K.Dot was him "prepping myself as far as the lyrical ability and going into the studio and saying, 'I want to be the best wordsmith, anybody that gets on this track I have to annihilate."

"I didn't have the actual technique of songwriting then," he continued. "This is the transition where Kendrick Lamar, Kung Fu Kenny... I look at Kung Fu Kenny as a master of the craft now. Now you have the ability to make songs and still have the wordsmith technique and intertwine it and have a composed mentality on how to approach music."

Later on, the two men discussed what it takes to be great. Kobe notes that "there's a certain stubbornness that comes along with being great" and that people usually think the road to greatness is an easy journey but forget all the hard work required to truly reach that status. 

Kendrick added, "It's the curiosity of it. The fear, the anxiety. It's the curiosity of knowing, damn, I can possibly overcome this. And when you do and another one approaches, I wanna challenge that too. That's real greatness." 

Watch the full interview below.