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 rightÂ here.
"Iâd 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, âThis is it, man. Nobody heard this story and if you heard it, you heard it in bits and pieces but Iâm finna put it to you in a whole albumâfrom Compton, from the hood, from the streetsâitâs a whole other perspective and light, Iâma go back and do the skits just like how Biggie and Dre and Snoop and âPac did it. And Iâma tell my story.â Then I wrapped up with it and said, âMan, whatâs on the radio right now? I donât think they doinâ skits and things like that.â I donât know if the people are gonna understand what Iâm talkinâ about on this album because itâs almost like a puzzle pieced together, and albums ainât been created like this in a long time. Albums that actually still reach the masses, at least."
"I was nervous because I didnât think the people would understand it. And I get a call from Pharrell. He said he had a copy of the album and itâs amazing. And I was like, that call was right on time because that was when I was feeling super insecure about it. Pharrell said, âNever 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.â This is his words verbatim, he said, Watch whatâs gonna happen."
"I think the first time I played âBitch, Donât Kill My Vibeâ for Andre 3000 was before it came out. I never share my album while Iâm 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, âPlay some stuff .â I canât 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 Iâm gonna be influenced and I donât want to be. That has always been my process. I just feel like, itâs really the only prized possession that I actually can control, you know? Itâs selfishness for sure, but itâs 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 rapperâs rapper, using my tongue as a sword, a fuckinâ barbarian. Thatâs 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 âcause this is around the same time where cats werenât putting out mixtapes anymore. They was putting out full bodies of work and wasnât even signed to a major label. So by that time, thatâs when I started developing and actually constructing my music from a writerâs 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 thatâs how I treat everything. Everything is critical like that from here on out. Itâs 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 didnât have big No. 1 records on it and there wasnât 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 youâre saying, ârap,â that would be my definition of something that deserved an accolade. Yep.
I found out a lot about myself in these past two years. Itâs 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 Iâm 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."