Kendrick Lamar Shares His Definition Of A “Wack Artist” With ‘Rolling Stone’

Kendrick Lamar is currently on a national tour promoting his DAMN. album, a project that was praised for its personal yet relatable lyrics and grand musicality. In a cover story with Rolling Stone, the Grammy Award-winning artist spoke on those descriptions and dissected certain statements he made throughout the album, one being that “wack artist” line on “ELEMENT.”

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“A wack artist uses other people’s music for their approval,” Lamar defined. “We’re talking about someone that is scared to make their own voice, chases somebody else’s success and their thing, but runs away from their own thing. That’s what keeps the game watered-down.”

The Compton native continued to state that he’s witnessed fellow prominent musicians bow to this action. “I watch a lot of good artists go down like that because you’re so focused on what numbers this guy has done, and it dampers your own creativity,” he said. “Which ultimately dampers the listener, because at the end of the day, it’s not for us. It’s for the person driving to their 9-to-5 that don’t feel like they wanna go to work that morning.”

On the subject of ghostwriters, Lamar said your field of expertise will determine that lyrical usage. “I called myself the best rapper. I cannot call myself the best rapper if I have a ghostwriter,” he mentioned. “If you’re saying you’re a different type of artist and you don’t really care about the art form of being the best rapper, then so be it. Make great music. But the title, it won’t be there.”

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On making a cohesive body of work with DAMN., which went No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, Lamar said, “The initial goal was to make a hybrid of my first two commercial albums. That was our total focus, how to do that sonically, lyrically, through melody — and it came out exactly how I heard it in my head … It’s all pieces of me.”

The 30-year-old also admitted, “going from To Pimp a Butterfly to DAMN., that sh*t could have crashed and burned if it wasn’t executed right. So I had to be real careful on my subject matter and how I weave in and out of the topics, where it still organically feels like me.” Lamar was also asked to select his favorite Drake song, to which he replied, “Favorite Drake song [chuckles]. I got a lot of favorite Drake songs. Can’t name one off the back. … He has plenty.”

Read the full Q&A here where he discusses his lyricism, landing in a good mental space, and Donald Trump.