Kendrick Lamar talks about his sudden rise to fame, "Control," moving out of Compton and more.
Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul all appear on the upcoming October/November issue of XXL magazine. The Black Hippy crew have seen plenty of success this year for all the members, however Kendrick's fame went above and beyond the crew (which is probably why XXL decided to go with the headline "Kendrick Lamar & Black Hippy"-- something Ab-Soul criticized recently).
Check out excerpts below.
Is it really like they say, that it happens fast? Even though you’re moving real slow and then—
Yeah, that’s very true. That’s very true. It definitely happens fast, but not fast in the sense, saying you didn’t put in the work—I’ve been doing this for ten years—but when that light beams on you, it happens fast from an aspect where you’re doing so much every day [that] you’re not really aware of the attention that you’re getting, ’cause you’re doing interviews, you do a show, then you do a studio, it’s just a constant, daily plan, so you can’t look at yourself. You can’t be in the crowd looking at yourself on stage, you know. I can only look in the mirror and know I’m Kendrick, and see that same little boy I seen seven years [ago], but I can’t see what everyone else sees. So more and more, I’m really unfazed by it as more and more success is hitting me and I’m not really sure [about it all]. It’s a tricky thing, for sure.
Speaking of Kurupt, why are you entertaining this “King of New York” talk from everybody? Why aren’t you just saying it’s a Kurupt lyric? You said it, so you meant it—
I think I said everything I need to say on Peter Rosenberg, Hot 97. If people don’t get it from there, then I don’t feel [I need] to explain myself any more. I think they’ll run it down to the ground rather than me. You know, I just wrote a verse. I think everybody’s just taking it to the ground and don’t want to let it go. I spoke my piece on Hot 97. If people wanna take it further than there, that’s their entertainment. I’m on a whole ‘nother plateau of thinking now. That was just for that moment of writing a verse. That’s how I feel about it.
I’m trying to talk about you in terms of a student of art. You did this thing where you flipped Kurupt’s lyrics, but you’re not bringing that up. That’s the shit that makes everybody look really stupid. It just shows your intelligence; if they paid attention they would know [where those lines come from].
That’s exactly what it is. I feel like, when you’re a student of it and you have a sense of knowing what’s going on, you hold other people accountable at knowing what’s going on, too—people that you respect—so you feel like there’s no need to explain yourself. If I’m not gonna explain myself to people that I know, that understand it, I don’t feel like it’s needed to explain myself to people that’s totally oblivious to it. So I just keep my mouth quiet, be a man of few words, and let everybody else go crazy and figure it out themselves, whether it takes tomorrow or it takes ten years from now.
Where do you live out here now? You moved out of Compton, right?
I’m in LA, still in LA County. I don’t think I’ll move too far from LA County. I’m probably like 20 minutes, 15 minutes out from the city. LA County is still Compton, Long Beach, Watts, West LA—everything is still 15 minutes away. I want to be stationary still, I didn’t want to go and move out to the country or nothing like that. I still got all my peoples, man. I got a lot of people to look after—that’s just a responsibility I have on myself; that’s how I look a it. I don’t wanna be too far.
Now that you have a spot, is it like, 'This is the crib I’m having for the next ten years?' Or is it, 'This is the crib I’m having for now?'
Yeah. I’m terrible at that. This is for now. Anybody that know me, know I’ll sleep anywhere. I’ll sleep in this corner right now, you feel me? Nah, this ain’t one of them dream houses. I can do that [financially]. If I was 17 years old, I’d spend all my money on a motherfuckin’ big-ass car and a big-ass motherfuckin’ house, with where I’m at [monetarily]. But I’m 26 years old, I’m a little more wiser.
You definitely need something you can maintain. You don’t want to get that Dr. Dre-sized house with a pool if you don’t got that Dr. Dre-sized bank account.
And that Dr. Dre-sized house with a pool is something serious.
Yeah, and his maintenance fees is like someone else’s mortgage.
I’ll tell you this: I think my second studio session with Dre, we were at the house recording—this is one of his places—and I said, “Man, this shit is crazy here. I can’t wait to get one of these.” He said “Oh, that’s the easy part. You could get it. Matter of fact, you probably can get it within the next year. The hardest thing is keeping it.” And that totally flipped my whole way of thinking, you feel what I’m saying? People forget about the whole back end of everything and keeping it up and making sure it’s right, as far as taxes, utilities. Right there, when he told me that, that’s when our whole relationship switched. It wasn’t just us in the studio working, he became almost like a mentor as far as off-the-record talking about life situations and the mistakes I don’t need to make being a new cat in the business.
Where do you see the company [TDE] going in the immediate future?
I think it’s really about just expanding. We’re a small company, man, but we said we’ll take this small company and we’re gonna brand it. That was Top Dawg’s whole thing: Take this small company and brand it; brand these artists and brand TDE as a label. Now I think it’s time to take the best foot forward and expand, whether it’s endorsements, TDE films, whether it’s just looking for more raw talent, keeping the culture alive with more new music. Everybody on the West has that thing about them where they’re students of the game, and want to just continue to branch out from what Snoop and Dre passed to them. I think that’s really the future for it right now, as far as the next year or two.
You, Q and Ab[-Soul] seem to jump on a lot of people’s records. Q has a bromance with Mac Miller, but Mac also has one going on with Earl [Sweatshirt]—there’s all of these types of weird different connections. But there doesn’t seem to be that whole quote-unquote movement like OVO/YMCMB/MMG type of thing. It seems like TDE is still very much TDE and doesn’t interact much with OPM or anybody else.
Nah, we definitely do. We definitely rock with them. I think once people start seeing the music come out and then see it on camera more, they’ll understand how we’re doing it, how we’re structuring it. You’ll definitely see it. Definitely, definitely see it. But OPM—Dom Kennedy got a project coming out right away—I don’t know when this magazine will be out but it’ll be October 1st [Ed. note: Kennedy's album was pushed back to October 15]. Shout out to OPM, shout out to Dom. Get Home Safely.