Kendrick Lamar refuses to bite his tongue for anyone in hip-hop. After boldly dubbing himself the greatest rapper alive on his new album DAMN., Lamar doubled down on his statements in a new interview with Beats 1 Zane Lowe.
"I'm so passionate about hip-hop," began Lamar. "I love it to a point that I can't even describe it. When I heard these artists say they're the best, coming up, I'm not doing it to have a good song or one good rap or good hook or good bridge. I want to keep doing it every time, period. And to do it every time, you have to challenge yourself and you have to confirm to yourself -- not anybody else, confirm to yourself that you're the best, period. No one can take that away from me, period. That's my drive and that's my hunger, I will always have. At this point right now, the years and the time and the effort and the knowledge and history I've done on the culture and the game I've gotten from those before me and the respect I have for them. I want to hold myself high on that same pedestal 10, 15 years from now."
Lamar also defended his verse on Big Sean's 2013 track "Control", when he fearlessly called out some of hip hop's biggest names. "Yeah, what we doing it for? This is culture," Lamar told Lowe. "This is not something you just play with and get a few dollars and get out. People live their lives through this music. My partners in the hood right now, they listen to rap every day, because it's the only thing that can relate to their stories and their tribulations. They live and breathe it. You can't play with this, and you have to take in consideration what you write down on that paper. If you're not doing it to say the most impactful sh*t or doing it to be the best you can be for the listener to live their lives through, what are we doing here?"
Later in the conversation, Lamar broke down the tale behind the DAMN. deep cut "DUCKWORTH.," which details a meeting between his father and TDE CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith.
When did you when did you realize that that story had happened? When did that story get shared with you?
About a year after I met Top Dawg. I met him when I was sixteen. My Pops came to the studio after I'd been locked in with him for a minute, and... we got a relationship now, bring my Pops through. He heard I was dealing with Top Dawg, but my Pops personally don't know him as Top Dawg, the industry know him as Top Dawg. Before he was Top Dawg, he was another name. So when he walked in that room and he seen that Top Dawg was this guy, he flipped. Still 'til this day, they laugh and they laugh and they trip out and they tell the same story over and over to each other.
Have you been waiting to tell that story?
Have I been waiting? It was just the right time. Top himself didn't know I was going to do it, or even execute it in that fashion, to be the last song or to be anywhere. Just making it make sense. I remember playing it for him, he flipped because further than the song, when you really can hear your life in words that is so true to you, and that affected your life one hundred percent through one decision, it really makes you sit back and cherish the moment.
I think that's something we all did playing that record. Like, "Man look where we at. We're recording music for the world to hear and we're taking care of our families. We're blessed." But listen to these words, like -- this is what happened. This is real life. It's amazing, and since a kid, I've always said to myself, "Anything is possible, and it always comes around tenfold, confirmation." And that story is confirmation.
Lamar's DAMN. is slated to top Billboard's 200 charts with an estimated 530,000 to 550,000 equivalent album units, potentially making it the largest debut of 2017.