After his second major label album To Pimp A Butterfly was released prematurely in the early hours of yesterday morning (March 16), Kendrick Lamar spoke with The New York Times about a variety of topics regarding his latest project, including the album’s cover art.

During the conversation — which took place at a Santa Monica studio where most of the new album was recorded — K. Dot first spoke on the influence he has on his listeners and fans.

“[For many fans], I’m the closest thing to a preacher that they have,” the 27-year-old artist says. “I know that from being on tour — kids are living by my music. My word will never be as strong as God’s word. All I am is just a vessel, doing his work.”

Shortly afterwards, the Compton, California rapper offered his take on today’s state of Hip Hop music.

“You know the songs that are out — we all love these songs,” Kendrick says. “They sell a lot of singles and make these record labels a lot of money. But those ‘really living’ in the streets don’t want to hear boasts about murder and drug dealing. They want to get away from that. If it comes across as just a game all the time, the kids are going to think it’s just a game.”

Continuing, K. Dot says, “From my perspective, I can only give you the good with the bad. It’s bigger than a responsibility, it’s a calling.”

Speaking on the album’s cover art, Kendrick says it represents taking things “to the next level.”

“Taking the same things that people call bad and bringing them with me to the next level, whether it’s around the world or to the Grammys or the White House,” he says. “You can’t change where I come from or who I care about.”

However, labeling To Pimp A Butterfly a “political record” would be “shortchanging it.”

“It’s a record full of strength and courage and honesty,” Kendrick Lamar says. “[But also] growth and acknowledgment and denial.”

Kendrick Lamar adds: “I want you to get angry — I want you to get happy,” he said. “I want you to feel disgusted. I want you to feel uncomfortable.”

To read the full interview, visit The New York Times.

For additional Kendrick Lamar coverage, watch the following DX Daily:

Please enable Javascript to watch this video