Kendrick Lamar’s notable 2015 included the critically-acclaimed To Pimp A Butterfly, an album that earned him 11 Grammy nominations. In a recent interview with NPR, TDE’s MVP reflected on the success he’s garnered thus far, and the lasting impact he wishes to have. Discussing the recurring theme of life in Compton and gang violence, K. Dot recalled the first murder he witnessed, at the tender age of five.
“It was outside my apartment unit. A guy was out there serving his narcotics and somebody rolled up with a shotgun and blew his chest out. Admittedly, it done something to me right then and there. It let me know that this is not only something that I’m looking at, but it’s something that maybe I have to get used to — you dig what I’m saying,” he said. “You grow up inside these neighborhoods and these communities, and you have friends, friends that you love, friends that you grew up with since elementary. And you have their trust, and you have their loyalty. So it brings influence. So no matter how much of a leader I thought I was, I was always under the influence, period. Most of the times, when they were involved in these acts of destruction, I was right there.”
Kendrick also discussed the repeated “found myself screaming in a hotel room” line on the TPAB. Reflecting on his experience with depression, the rapper expressed a feeling of obligation to his hometown and his family.
“What was the feeling? The feeling was missing home,” he admitted. “The feeling was, I should be with my family right now when they’re going through hardships, with the loss of my dear friends that’s constantly passing while I’m out on this road. The feeling was, ‘How am I influencing so many people on this stage rather than influencing the ones that I have back home?’ That’s the feeling: being inside the hotel room, and these thoughts I’m just pondering back and forth while I look at the ceiling all night.”
Still reeling at the current state of affairs in his beloved Compton, Kendrick shed light on his thought process following loss of his friend Chad Keaton. The death of Keaton, the younger brother of his currently incarcerated best friend, ignited a fury inside of him that is usually dormant, one where he “wanted the next family to hurt, because you made my family hurt.” Shedding light on thoughts such as those as “part of the problem,” K. Dot pointed to the necessity of depth in his lyrics to help balance things out.
“I think that the depth is needed,” he says. “And there’s a lot of other artists doing things outside of that depth that I enjoy — that music that I can actually have fun to, and not be in depth and think about, then I appreciate that. But as long as I’m doing it right now, I’ma continue to say just a little bit more that pertains to what’s going on.”
Read his full feature with NPR here.