Kendrick Lamar is one of the hottest artists in rap, so it's no surprise that other people have covered his songs. But which covers are as interesting as the originals, and deserve a spot on any fan's playlist? Listen to these 7 outstanding Kendrick Lamar covers by clicking the links below, then get tickets to see Kendrick Lamar live here at AXS.
Have you ever wondered how a Kendrick Lamar song would sound with a full orchestra? Music fans know thanks to Project Resonance, which took "All The Stars" and gave it an orchestral cover. Most rap songs would suffer that way; after all, they're made for spoken words, not instrumentals. But Project Resonance actually shows how great of a song "All The Stars" is because they make it worth a listen even though the focus is shifted away from the lyrics. The musicians are the stars here, and they make the music shine.
Pop duo Chloe x Halle have become a buzzworthy act, but before they were famous, they covered "HUMBLE" by Kendrick Lamar. It's clear that this version, recorded last May in their living room, isn't as polished as some of the other covers on our list. But it showcases how well Chloe x Halle work together. They have great harmonies and don't step on each other at all, despite performing a song that has a very fast pace. It's a shame that they didn't make their cover more of a production, because they could have pulled it off.
Rita Ora performed a version of "Swimming Pools" at a handful of concerts and deserves an "A" for effort. The song is not easy to sing, and she pulled it off without missing a single word. Ora made sure the song had just as much attitude as the original version but also put her own style into it, including holding out some lines (like at the 1:35 mark) to give them extra punch. Many artists cover songs in concert, but Ora's cover was worthy of a single release.
Damien Lawson was a sensation when he was a finalist on season 7 of NBC's "The Voice" and he's continued to be underrated since. His biggest strength is how much emotion he can pour into every performance, and he puts so much warmth into "LOVE." The whole point of the song is the narrator wanting to be loved, and Lawson does make it sound like he's pleading for the listener's affection. He also goes on some impressive runs, too.
Jorja Smith covered "All The Stars" for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, and it suited her voice very well. This cover is just Smith's vocals and her playing piano, and that lack of other instrumentation makes her voice stand out even more. She has an almost Alicia Keys-like quality to this performance, and it's the kind of song that audiences can sit back and just get lost in. She preserves everything that's great about the song and shows that less can be more.
CHVRCHES have turned out some impressive covers, but they outdid themselves with this version of "LOVE." Lead singer Lauren Mayberry's vocals have an excellent showcase in this cover, and she hits some amazing high notes. Her bandmates also provide some strong supporting vocals and having more than one voice singing gives the song a new dimension. It's as good as any of CHVRCHES' original songs.
Andra Day is an amazing artist in her own right, so it's no surprise that her version of "No Make Up" is the best Kendrick Lamar cover. She transforms it into something all her own, sultry and a little bit jazzy. Her voice lingers on each word and she moves effortlessly between the sung portions and the rap portions of the song. It's captivating, cool and a whole lot of fun to listen to. Hear it by playing the video at the top of this article and see if you fall in love with it, too.
For more on Kendrick Lamar, including tickets to his upcoming concerts, visit his artist page at AXS.