It’s not often when we get to act as fly on the wall while two musical geniuses share a candid conversation. But thanks to Interview Magazine, Erykah Badu’s phone chat with Kendrick Lamar was all captured on tape. Badu was at her home in Dallas while Lamar was posted up at the Denver airport waiting on the his next flight. VIBE picked 5 of the stand excerpts for your reading pleasure.
BADU: Is there an MC who influenced you or whose level of excellence you feel that you will never reach?
LAMAR: [laughs] That I feel I’ll never reach? I’ll have to say Jay or Eminem. Jay for sure—just off the simple fact of his longevity. That, to me, is probably one-in-a-million for rappers. A good career for a rapper is five or six years, so I think Jay still being relevant and having the skills he has—it’s really unmatched. I hope I get to that level and keep my work ethic up and strategically think of certain things. But there will probably only ever be one Jay. He’ll probably go down as the greatest to ever do it. Pac also could’ve had that, but due to his passing, we’ll never know if he’d have reached that.
BADU: What has it been like for you to get to meet someone like Dr. Dre or any of these other artists who you looked up to when you were a kid?
LAMAR: It’s weird . . .
BADU: In what way?
LAMAR: Well, I’ve got an extra-specific story about Dr. Dre. I saw him when I was 9 years old in Compton—him and Tupac. They were shooting the second “California Love” video. My pops had seen him and ran back to the house and got me, put me on his neck, and we stood there watching Dre and Pac in a Bentley. I’ll never forget this moment—it was probably about a year and some change before Pac died. So the moment I met Dre 15 years later, that’s what was playing in my head. He was talking to me, and the whole time I was like, I hear him, but I’m not listening, because all I could think about was that moment when I was a kid. [both laugh] It was tricky at first because right after that he said, “Go in the booth,” so I had to, in a split second, stop being a fan and get professional. That moment was make-or-break for me in my career, but I executed.
BADU: Okay, let me ask you this: How do you choose chicks from backstage?
LAMAR: How do I choose chicks from backstage?
BADU: Yeah, what is the protocol?
LAMAR: I try not to. [laughs] I’m too scared. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m probably the most scared person when it comes to that because I’m so caught up in the act of sex, of something going crazy, going out of my control. I’m too paranoid.
BADU: [laughs] So you just pass?
LAMAR: I’ve got to because I’ve seen a situation where it got totally out of hand, where something seemed so innocent, and now this person has got allegations on them. It spooked me. This was before my career really started, though—before any “Kendrick Lamar.” And that right there? It changed my whole perception about certain things. I’ll always keep that in the back of my head.
BADU: What is god?
LAMAR: God to me is love. [laughs] It’s the ruler of all things, whether it’s with a person or with music or with your TV. I feel like it’s this energy. God is energy, love is energy.
BADU: Okay, top five rappers of all time. Who are they?
LAMAR: Oh, man.
(after some back and forth, Kendrick ended up with this list of 10)
– Snoop Dogg
– The Notorious B.I.G.
– Andre 3000
– Method Man (Honorable Mention)