There’s no denying the hyper cultural significance and importance Kendrick Lamar’s art has on pop culture, hip-hop and the social-political movements of the last few years—especially when it concerns black men, their bodies and vernacular.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, K.Dot spoke about the usage of the N-word, and how it’s a term he takes ownership of as a black man. While others might want to eliminate the word in its totality, the “Loyalty” rapper seeks to embrace it sans any white person’s sense of entitlement to the word.
“Let me put it to you in its simplest form. I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do,” he explained. “Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city. So many things—’you can’t do that’—whether it’s from afar or close up. So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.”
The Compton native also spoke about the effect his sophomore album good kid, m.A.A.d city had on the community, and those he grew up with. Through that body of work, he was able to describe the violence and social struggles that encircle his hometown.
“That was our world. I remember when good kid came out, the people I grew up with couldn’t understand how we made that translate through music,” he said. “They literally cried tears of joy when they listened to it—because these are people who have been shunned out of society. But I know the kinds of hearts they have; they’re great individuals. And for me to tell my story, which is their story as well, they feel that someone has compassion for us, someone does see us further than just killers or drug dealers. We were just kids.”