Kendrick Lamar shares insight into his debut album and the impact it had on his life.
In the new issue of XXL, we get to hear directly from Kendrick Lamar-- instead of going the typical and sometimes boring interview route, Kendrick Lamar writes about himself in the first person.
In K. Dot's article, the rapper assesses being famous, what it means (or does not mean) to him, his debut album good kid, m.A.A.d city, and of course what's ahead. For a glimpse into the mind of the TDE rapper, check out some choice excerpts below.
You can read the full interview right here.
"I’d be lying to you to say I knew good kid, m.A.A.d city would be as successful as it has been. In the beginning I was very doubtful. Once I was done, the jitters hit me so fast. I was so confident in making it, because I was like, “This is it, man. Nobody heard this story and if you heard it, you heard it in bits and pieces but I’m finna put it to you in a whole album—from Compton, from the hood, from the streets—it’s a whole other perspective and light, I’ma go back and do the skits just like how Biggie and Dre and Snoop and ’Pac did it. And I’ma tell my story.” Then I wrapped up with it and said, “Man, what’s on the radio right now? I don’t think they doin’ skits and things like that.” I don’t know if the people are gonna understand what I’m talkin’ about on this album because it’s almost like a puzzle pieced together, and albums ain’t been created like this in a long time. Albums that actually still reach the masses, at least."
"I was nervous because I didn’t think the people would understand it. And I get a call from Pharrell. He said he had a copy of the album and it’s amazing. And I was like, that call was right on time because that was when I was feeling super insecure about it. Pharrell said, “Never feel that way again. When that little negative man come behind your head, always follow your first heart, and that was your first heart, to put the album out like this.” This is his words verbatim, he said, Watch what’s gonna happen."
"I think the first time I played “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” for Andre 3000 was before it came out. I never share my album while I’m creating. I think that the situation with Andre was one of those things where he was in the studio with Dre and Dre was like, “Play some stuff .” I can’t say no to Dr. Dre. But me creating music, I never really play music for anybody, even people inside the camp because it can almost sway your creative process 100 percent. So along with that, I cut off everything on the radio; I really just duck off from music. Because I’m gonna be influenced and I don’t want to be. That has always been my process. I just feel like, it’s really the only prized possession that I actually can control, you know? It’s selfishness for sure, but it’s my selfishness and I own it."
"From 13 years old to the time I was 21, I was in a mode of mastering how to be a rapper. Like a rapper’s rapper, using my tongue as a sword, a fuckin’ barbarian. That’s all it was about, slaying words. So when I turned 21, 22, somewhere around there, I got into a mode where it became more of a writer aspect for me rather than just being a rapper ’cause this is around the same time where cats weren’t putting out mixtapes anymore. They was putting out full bodies of work and wasn’t even signed to a major label. So by that time, that’s when I started developing and actually constructing my music from a writer’s point of view. good kid, m.A.A.d city was probably one of them albums that you could unfold out into a book and read it. And that’s how I treat everything. Everything is critical like that from here on out. It’s the art of writing."
"I thought I was going to win Best Rap Album at the Grammys. I put a lot of work in on my album and the biggest thing for me is knowing that it was basically an underground album. It didn’t have big No. 1 records on it and there wasn’t really any commercial hits. It was great songs and I think the message behind it reached as many listeners and believers as a super mainstream album. So for me, when you’re saying, “rap,” that would be my definition of something that deserved an accolade. Yep.
I found out a lot about myself in these past two years. It’s scary. I know more about myself now than any other point of my life. I believe in this theory that when you get success and you get fame and money, it makes you be you times ten. I was a pretty shy and to myself type of person as a kid. And now 15 years later I’m in front of people every day, tens of thousands of people. So that makes me more of a recluse. That makes me not come outside of my world on the outskirts of L.A. and bounce around different places and things like that."