Kendrick Lamar Explained How Prodigy Inspired Him To Make His First Mixtape As A 16-Year-Old

This past week, hip-hop lost one of the most honest and prolific storytellers of the past generation. It’s only right that one of the most honest and prolific storytellers of the current one paid tribute at the BET Awards.

Kendrick Lamar, accepting the award for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, honored the late Prodigy, one half of Mobb Deep, who passed this week due to complications related to his lifelong sickle cell condition. Kenny reiterated that the late, great Queens, NY rapper was a major influence on his early style and an inspiration for his continued evolution as an artist. Kendrick, who hit the stage earlier with Future, also saluted Chance the Rapper during his speech. He beat out Chance for the award, but Chance cleaned up elsewhere, winning the 2017 Humanitarian Award.

In a prior interview with GQ back in 2013, Kendrick noted Prodigy’s influence on his early style and development as a writer and an MC, describing the original recording set up at Dave Free’s house — Pro Tools, a mic, and a quilt hanging over the mic — and revealed that the name of his earliest mixtape, Youngest Head N*gga In Charge, was a direct homage to the late Mobb Deep rapper from Queens, New York. Check out the quote below and watch his performance above.

“We had this garage in Dave Free’s mother’s house, we just had ProTools, a mic, and a quilt hanging over the mic. It would be late night when we would go to his mom’s house. Probably wouldn’t come out the garage tun like 4 am, then wake up and go to school the next morning. We started recording this mix tape, called Youngest Head Nigga In Charge, YHNIC, and I was a big Prodigy fan at the time. So I was really biting his style.”