Kendrick Lamar is regarded by many as one of the greatest rappers alive, an artist drawing praise from rap purists to mumble rap fans alike. Still, his status as the man of the hour doesn't mean he's cool with anyone throwing shade at rap game pioneers. In a new cover story for Forbes' 30 Under 30 issue, K. Dot explains both his role as a mentor to rap's younger heads and the need to honor the contributions of the rappers that came before him.

During the interview, Kung Fu Kenny says the responsibility that comes with being called the face of hip-hop is to "never forget the root where I come from, as far as hip-hop, and knowing my forefathers and the people that laid the groundwork for me to be here."

Kendrick says he recognizes the ever-evolving nature of rap and the need for he and others to be more inclusive in their mentorship, even if newer rappers don't fit the mold of MC's like himself. With that said, though, he still doesn't think they should ever go at rap game forefathers.

"I want hip-hop to continue to evolve. That's why I can't shun a lot of the artists that may not be a Kendrick Lamar," he says. "But this is what I tell them every time I see them... be yourself and do what you do but also know who laid down the groundwork. Don't go on your interviews and diss them and say you don't like them and you don't care for them. That's your opinion, that's cool, but you have to respect them. So talking down on the folks that inspired us to do this, it'd never be right. You dig what I'm saying? So at the end of the day as long as you be who you are but respect what got us here, that's how you continue to evolve."

Kendrick doesn't name any names, but the thing he warns against has arguably been happening since the very beginning of rap, and probably played a role in the writing of Eminem's new song "Walk on Water," a track that seemingly came in response to increased criticisms of Slim Shady. Here's to hoping people heed Kendrick's words.

See Photos of Kendrick Lamar's Different Looks Over the Years

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