Ahead of his second weekend as a headliner at Coachella, Kendrick Lamar sat down with Zane Lowe of Apple Music’s Beats 1 for an extensive interview, opening up about his new release “Damn.”, his musical influences, and what it’s like to be regarded as the greatest rapper alive.
“Definitely, a whole lot of influence,” says Lamar of his admiration for Jay Z, Eminem and Tupac Shakur. “My boy Dave will tell you I was in his garage and you all my ad-libs sounded like Jay Z. My words, my flow. Him, Eminem, and I grew up off Pac, being from Compton. But Jay Z, I wanted to have the conversational type of word play and aspect of things. Whether I’m engaging in a story or I’m just having fun, it just felt like he was natural and he was fluent with it.”
When it comes to his new album, Lamar says that “Damn.” is a natural evolution from its critically acclaimed predecessor “To Pimp a Butterfly”.
“The best way for me to put it, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ would be the idea of the thought of changing the world and how we worked and approach things. ‘Damn.’ would be the idea I can’t change the world until I change myself. So when you listen to records like ‘Pride.’ ‘Humble.’ ‘Lust.’ “’Love.’ These are all just human emotions and me looking in the mirror and coming to grips with them,” he explains. “Thinking of the idea of the world itself and combine them into records. I would hope the listener can take heed and grab something from both of them two ideas and carry out their day to the best potential of themselves they see.”
Rap, says Lamar, is all about the passion. “I’m so passionate about hip-hop. I don’t know what era everybody else comes from but I listened. We play house parties, bro, every night. I love it to a point that I can’t even describe it,” he says.
“When I heard these artists say they’re the best, coming up, I’m not doing it to have a good song or one good rap or good hook or good bridge,” he adds. “I want to keep doing it every time, period. And to do it every time, you have to challenge yourself and you have to confirm to yourself, not anybody else, confirm to yourself that you’re the best, period. No one can take that away from me, period. That’s my drive and that’s my hunger, I will always have. At this point right now, the years and the time and the effort and the knowledge and history I’ve done on the culture and the game I’ve gotten from those before me and the respect I have for them. I want to hold myself high on that same pedestal 10, 15 years from now.”