With the 56th annual Grammy Awards set to take place in only a matter of months, Grammy.com recently sat down with Compton rapper and Grammy nomination hopeful Kendrick Lamar to discuss matters of inspiration, legacy, and more. Grammy.com’s interview with K-Dot comes only a matter of days after the September 30 Grammy nomination deadline.
While discussing what he hopes will become his legacy in both art and life, Kendrick commented on being a boundary-pusher and his constant desire to push the envelope just a little bit. The good kid, m.A.A.d city rapper also cited his Compton upbringing as he spoke on breaking away from the gangster rap mentality prevalent in the music coming out of his West Coast hometown.
“Someone that wasn’t afraid to push boundaries. Someone that wanted to step out the box and always challenge himself,” said Kendrick. “Coming from Compton I think in just the lifestyle in general it’s always been glorified as the reality of gangster rap. And that’s something I can’t escape. I was born and raised. I been in the lifestyle and it’s in my music. It reflect in my music. So, when I first stepped into it it kinda threw people off balance that I wasn’t glorifying everything that I’ve seen or actually done in the streets. So, that was a step from the box from the initial gate and that was me challenging myself to do something a little bit different. You know, represent myself. So, with that being the start I always wanted that to be something that you will remember me by. Someone that always challenged himself and not went towards other people’s standards. And just pushed the envelope a little bit more. Not just in art, but just in life in general.”
Kendrick Lamar Talks “good kid, m.A.A.d city” Inspiration
Although Kendrick says he drew inspiration for his major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, from his days growing up in Compton, now that the album has been released almost a year, the West Coast wordsmith revealed that his inspiration has now shifted. According to Kendrick, his newfound inspiration is life.
“My first album, my inspiration came from me growing up in Compton. Just my neighborhood alone,” said the TDE emcee. “My album represents one day of me living in the city. You know, so it’s so many different stories that I wanted to tell on that album. And it trips me out that that inspiration comes from right there and the whole world can actually feel that and express their feelings from it. So, nowadays I wouldn’t say it comes from Compton or me being on the corner with my homeboy. On a more broader avenue it’d just be life in general.
“Now it’s just not me being in the streets. It’s about me having that balance with my music career and my family,” he added. “It’s about me staying true to myself and not getting caught up in the lights. It’s about me still being close to my spirituality and not being so tainted with the negatives of being an artist…Cause I can sit and talk to a five-year-old little boy and draw from a song from talking to him and seeing the innocence in his eyes that I haven’t seen in myself in a long time. That’s inspiration. Just life.”
Kendrick Lamar Speaks On Avoiding Tabloid Culture
With Hip Hop acts becoming more and more prevalent in tabloid culture, Kendrick was also asked how he’s managed to avoid that particular side of the industry. The Compton lyricist, who says he’s still learning as he goes, commented on keeping his circle limited to those he knows are genuine.
“Keep the most genuine people around you. Only a few,” he said. “Don’t let too many in the circle that wasn’t there since day one. That understands who you truly are and don’t see you as a celebrity or a figure or a dollar figure, putting a price on you. Keep those around you. And the toughest thing to do as an artist is to have that balance. But you have to try and navigate that. Your personal life and your music career. So, it’s something that I’m going through right now. Trying to figure. So, I can’t give you a straight up answer like I know it all. You know, I’m still growing and learning as I go. I think that’s my challenge right now.”
Although Kendrick’s last studio album was released almost a year ago, the rapper caused a minor uproar in Hip Hop due to his verse on Big Sean’s “Control.” In his verse, he goes on to call out a handful of rappers by name as he raps, “I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you niggas/Trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas.” The record and Kendrick’s verse in particular drew responses from Joell Ortiz, Papoose, Cassidy, Joey Bada$$, and a number of other emcees.
Kendrick’s currently scheduled to perform alongside fellow TDE spitters ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock at this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards, and is also set to appear in a Hip Hop Awards cypher. The annual awards show is slated to air on October 15.
UPDATE: The Grammy interview video clips, which were reported on in HipHopDX's October 11 news story, have been released. The videos can be viewed below.