Kendrick Lamar says it is important to give back to his hometown of Compton, California to give the kids hope.

“There’s a lot of kids that grew up the way I did,” he says to Essence, “that feel like there’s no way out. We don’t get a lot of celebrities or whatnot to come to the city and actually put they hand back in the city and say, ‘You can do it, too.’ I feel like it’s only right that I champion them, let them know I’ll always be behind them. Let them know I know the sacrifices and the struggles they go through and give ’em some type of inspiration.”

Lamar says the first time he knew his music inspired people was after he was a few projects into his career. When he first started rapping, he didn’t really care about reaching people.

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“When you’re a kid, you don’t really know what you’re doing,” he says. “You’re just doing it for the love of it, for the passion of it. The first time I knew it was impacting, I made a young lady actually shed a tear over a record I did on my mixtape. I think it was Section.80. That’s when I knew it was something serious. It’s more than just beats and rhymes, actually something people can relate to.”

Kendrick Lamar will be performing at this year’s Essence Festival.

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