Kendrick Lamar Talks Relationship With Kobe, Importance of Music Videos & Passing the Torch

For the last few days, basketball savants and avid hip-hop listeners have been living in bliss because of NBA All-Star Weekend. Packed with high-profile celebrities including LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Future and more, Los Angeles has been the hot spot to party and celebrate this President’s Day Weekend.

While everyone continues to revel at the sight of the Staples Center and the city’s biggest attractions, one West Coast artist is relishing the moment to the fullest. After nabbing five Grammys last month and watching his ambitious masterpiece Black Panther: The Album gain acclaim — and possibly a No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200 — Kendrick Lamar is all smiles after demolishing his 45-minute set at LA LIVE’s Microsoft Square Friday night (Feb. 16).

Fans gushed at the sight of K. Dot, whose riveting performance came through his partnership with American Express. The proceeds from the show were donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, bolstering the importance of his performance.

With the West Coast sitting comfortably at his fingertips, in a matter of six years, Lamar’s unflinching approach has earned him rap immortality. So, for the 30-year-old, to see the NBA return to the West Coast for All-Star Weekend during his apex is an amazing feeling.

Billboard chatted with Lamar about All-Star Weekend happening in his backyard, if he’d ever consider playing in the NBA Celebrity Game, his relationship with Kobe Bryant and his thoughts on one day passing the throne to a new artist.

Billboard: How did your collaboration with American Express come about?

Kendrick Lamar: Man, I don’t know how it came about. I think my credit got good, or something. [Laughs.]

You must be looking at the 780’s and 790’s.

Yeah, I think that’s how it happened or something. [Laughs.] They weren’t messing with me when I was 16, 17 years old.

You need to tell me how to boost my credit, if that’s the case.

You need to tell me, too. [Laughs]

This is the first time in seven years that the NBA brought All-Star Weekend back to LA. How does it feel to have the festivities return back to Cali?

It’s a good feeling, man. We got legends here from Kobe to Magic to just a whole conglomerate of the sports atmosphere and our die-hard fans. From hip-hop and in sports, it all makes sense at the end of the day why they would come back here.

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