Kendrick Lamar, The best rapper of his generation as he is fondly called, sheds some light on his beginnings, what motivates him, his music, Beyonce, and Taylor Swift in a new interview with Rolling Stone.
Rolling Stone sat down with the rapper who just released the video of the Rihanna-assisted song “Loyalty” to talk about his music.
When asked about what his vices as a rapper are, he answers:
“My biggest vice is being addicted to the chase of what I’m doing. It turns into a vice when I shut off people that actually care for me, because I’m so indulged spreading this word. Being on that stage, knowing that you’re changing people’s lives, that’s a high. Sometimes, when you’re pressing so much to get something across to a stranger, you forget people that are closer to you. That’s a vice.”
Kendrick Lamar who has an anti-drinking song “Swimming Pools (Drank)” also talked about drinking and what he does for fun. He said:
“Everybody’s fun is different. Mine is not drinking. I drink casually, from time to time. I like to get people from my neighborhood, someone that’s fresh out of prison for five years, and see their faces when they go to New York, when they go out of the country. Shit, that’s fun for me. You see it through their eyes and you see ’em light up.”
The rapper revealed that his nickname as a child was “Man Man,” saying his family called him so because, “I carried myself as a man.”
He also discussed what having his father around meant for him, and how that helped him compared to his friends who didn’t. He said:
“It taught me how to deal with [pauses] … emotions. Better than a lot of my peers. When you see kids doing things that the world calls harmful or a threat, it’s because they don’t know how to deal with their emotions. When you have a father in your life, you do something, he’ll look at you and say, “What the fuck is you doing?” Putting you in your place. Making you feel this small.”
The rapper said he is angered by people who are not driven the same way he is. “Energy suckers,” he calls them.
When asked why he has been quiet about Donald Trump. He had this to say;
“I mean, it’s like beating a dead horse. We already know what it is. Are we gonna keep talking about it or are we gonna take action? You just get to a point where you’re tired of talking about it. It weighs you down and it drains your energy when you’re speaking about something or someone that’s completely ridiculous. So, on and off the album, I took it upon myself to take action in my own community. On the record, I made an action to not speak about what’s going on in the world or the places they put us in. Speak on self; reflection of self first. That’s where the initial change will start from.”
Kendrick Lamar discussed his trip to South Africa. He said:
It just felt like a place where I belonged. It was as simple as that. […] We all said the same thing, like, “Damn, we gonna go back to the city. This is home, for real.”
Asked if he was aware Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” was a diss song aimed at Katy Perry before jumping on it, he said:
“No, I wasn’t aware of that, bro. That’s a great question. No! On the record, no. Which makes it even more funny now, for sure. That’s far beyond my concern. I have to stay away from that, for sure. That’s some real beef.”
And about what he learned from working with Beyoncé, he said:
“How particular to be about your music. She’s a perfectionist. Think about the BET performance. She was very particular – the lighting, the camera blocking, the transition from the music to the dancing. It was confirmation of something I already knew.
The rapper also talked about his optimism about the future?
“I’m mothafuckin’ optimistic for sure. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t! Come on, man, this shit don’t happen to everybody. Almost all of my best friends are in prison. Forty years plus. Every show, they wanna see pictures. They tell me, “You gotta be optimistic as fuck to be where you at. We didn’t have that. The glass was always halfway empty.” And it’s not just being optimistic. It’s really about being responsible. You can talk about dreams all day and “what I want,” but you gotta put an action behind it.”