It’s really easy to sit on our comfortable perches and just play god by making stupid analogies comparing Unrelated X to Come On Y over social media. A little too easy; the Oval Office is currently occupied by a walking cautionary tale for this very schema. Still, what kind of ludicrously wealthy reporter would I be to not take a hard-boiled look at the most critical controversy plaguing the entire continent on the holy holiday (fuck, is that the etymology of “holiday?” Holy day? Wow.) of 4/20: Whether or not our Lord and savior Kendrick Lamar is actually, in fact, our Model Parliament, Radiohead. I’ve never seen them in the same room together, except for maybe at the Grammys, but surely you’ve figured out by now that to even conceive of this exercise I must be too lazy for a Google Image Search. So without further Adele, let’s get down to some Throbbing Hard Journalism.
O.verly D.edicated (2010) = Pablo Honey (1993)
Correct, this one is bullshit. Like, beyond fucked. Obviously, Radiohead’s most acclaimed album did not contain a massive worldwide hit like “Alien Girl (Today With Her)” that threatened to turn Kendrick into a one-hit wonder during the height of popularity for “U2 grunge.” Kendrick did not make his U2-grunge album until 2017.
Section.80 (2011) = The Bends (1995)
On a more serious note, the sophomore outing from both of these generation-defining artists is where they came into their own as Srs Artsts and is even still considered their best record by some of their most faithful fans, who also ride razor scooters to work (because it’s more organic) while sipping a Unicorn latte (because they’re seven). One important distinction is that Section.80 doesn’t have “Bones”. That song [loooooong bleep] sucks. It does have “HiiPoWeR”, though, which makes a stronger case for J. Cole as a producer than he’s ever made as a rapper. This is analogous because the producer of “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” is also a better rapper than J. Cole.
good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012) = OK Computer (1997)
The main difference between good kid, m.A.A.d. city, a rap album, and OK Computer, which is some kind of calculator-rock digitoid ball-scratcher, is that good kid, m.A.A.d. city received a mere 9.5 from Pitchfork and OK Computer was awarded the ultra-coveted 10 fuckbillion (10FB GDP) point zero (10FB.0) rating. Otherwise, they are literally the same album. (If you listen closely to “Fitter, Happier” on binaural headphones, you can hear ScHoolboy Q in one channel distinctly shouting “YAWK YAWK YAWK YAWK” after each line of the text-to-speech program’s recitations.) This was the moment that these two peas in a pod left the pod, so to speak.
To Pimp a Butterfly (2015) = Kid A (2000)
The fourth album by these two lovebugs was respectively where both of them broke all the rules. I mean ALL OF THEM. Jonny Greenwood reportedly stopped showering for the entire duration of recording the dystopian opus, and Thom Yorke made a habit of pissing on the studio floor to demonstrate his disillusionment with technology, particularly that of Britain’s toilet system. Nigel Godrich later explained in The Guardian that he was informed he would be fired if he ever broke eye contact with Yorke during these pissing sessions.
Similarly, Kendrick began to compose his rhymes completely in hieroglyphs, retaining a tattoo artist on hand to have them permanently etched into Flying Lotus’ back after the last papyrus store in Compton closed down. As it turns out, Kendrick actually wrote the famous “I love myself” refrain from “i” while trying to picture himself as Yorke in 1992, completing the fateful masturbation that would inspire him to compose Radiohead’s biggest hit, “Thinking About You”.
You’ve probably suspected that this analogy has one glaring flaw: Radiohead obviously don’t have a “King Kunta”. It’s frustrating because every single song on Kid A contains the lyric “this dick ain’t free” — even “Treefingers”. But admittedly, this one just doesn’t wash.
untitled unmastered. (2016) = Amnesiac (2001)
This is where people started to first notice serious parallels between Radiohead and Kendrick’s careers. It’s completely incontrovertible that both icons released an album of equally acclaimed outtakes immediately following a work so massively acclaimed that it well stood a chance of topping decade lists. Also, even though they were recorded at the same time as their predecessors, their productions were distinctly dimmer and murkier; Amnesiac wasn’t literally unmastered, but the close-eared sonics on, say, “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors” were considerably thinner than the sweeping vastness of, say, “How to Disappear CompletOHFUCK I FORGOT TO WRITE THIS ONE IN THE SATIRICAL LUNATIC PERSONA FUCK FUCK FUUUUUUUCK.
DAMN. (2017) = Hail to the Thief (2003)
Kendrick’s newest outing, DAMN. , makes it painfully clear he’s been in cahoots with Ed O’Brien and co. this whole “damn.” time. The jig is up, but that doesn’t mean he can’t poke fun at himself: the just-released “DNA.” video contains IRL footage of esteemed actor Don Cheadle forcing Kendrick to confess to ripping off “We Suck Young Blood” wholesale on “DUCKWORTH.”. (Yes, the story is true: Anthony Tiffith once drank Kendrick’s father’s blood back before Kendrick was born, then made Kendrick’s father, Kenny, drink his blood, effectively siring the rapper into existence, though ironically, everyone involved has denied an association with the Bloods despite the aversion to garlic shared by all of the above-named.) Still, this is where people start to overrate both artists in the exact same way after both of them opted to return to their “old sound” by having Bono sing every single track on the album.
So yes, Kendrick Lamar is, in fact, Radiohead. Phil Selway is his leg.