''I Never Retract My Statements'' – Kendrick Lamar Talks Music, Eminem & More With GQ Style

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With his hardcore lyrics and unapologetic style, Kendrick Lamar has become a top shot in Hip Hop.

Kendrick recently sat down for an interesting GQ Style interview with record producer Rick Rubin. The duo talked about Lamar’s influences, his writing process and what it took to record the number one protest anthem ‘Alright’

 

Kendrick who disclosed that he was inspired by Eminem when he was a kid, said…

”I got my clarity just studying Eminem when I was a kid. How I got in the studio was all just curiosity. I had a love for the music, but it was curiosity. The day I heard The Marshall Mathers LP, I was just like, How does that work? What is he doing? How is he putting his words together like that? What’s the track under that? An ad-lib? What is that? And then, Why don’t you go in the studio and see? So I do that. Then it became, How’s his words cutting through the beat like that? What is he doing that I’m not doing, now that I’m into it? His time is impeccable. When he wants to fall off the beat, it’s impeccable. These are things that, through experience and time, I had to learn”

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Peep a few highlights from the interview below;

Rick Rubin: When making music, do you ever consider the audience at all, or is it more just self-expression?

Kendrick Lamar: I used to consider the listener. But now I’m in a space where if I’m not inspired, I can’t really do the music. I can’t feel it. I put in enough hours to be able to pen a hundred-bar verse on the spot at any given moment. But for me to actually feel an idea, it has to come from me. And a lot of times, I have to block out different needs and wants just for my own selfish reasons. But at the end of the day, it comes out where, whether you like it or not, you know it comes from a real place. It’s gonna feel unapologetic, uncompromising, and it’s gonna feel me

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Rick Rubin: Has there ever been anything that comes up that you feel like, I don’t want to say that on a record?

Kendrick Lamar: That’s a great question. I always said to myself, if I said it on a record, I never retract my statements. Because it’s my self-expression, and you can have your opinions on it, you can feel a certain type of way, but it’s how I feel. And I can’t contradict that at all.

Let’s talk about “Alright” for a second. It has become our generation’s protest song
Kendrick Lamar: Yeah, yeah.

When you wrote it, did you have that in mind? Did you think of it as a protest song?
Kendrick Lamar: No. You know what? I was sitting on that record for about six months. The beat’s Pharrell. And between my guy Sam Taylor and Pharrell, they would always be like, Did you do it? When you gonna do it? I knew it was a great record—I just was trying to find the space to approach it. I mean, the beat sounds fun, but there’s something else inside of them chords that Pharrell put down that feels like—it can be more of a statement rather than a tune. So with Pharrell and Sam asking me—Am I gonna rock on it? When I’m gonna rock on it?—it put the pressure on me to challenge myself. To actually think and focus on something that could be a staple in hip-hop. And eventually, I came across it. Eventually, I found the right words. You know, it was a lot going on, and still, to this day, it’s a lot going on. And I wanted to approach it as more uplifting—but aggressive. Not playing the victim, but still having that We strong, you know?

 

 

 

 

 

You can check out GQ.com for more deets about Kendrick’s interview.

 

Photography: Paola Kudacki

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