In Rolling Stone writer Brian Hiatt's brilliant interview with GRAMMY-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar, the pair weave in and out of talking about K-Dot's mindset for studio sessions.
Kendrick fondly remembers his inaugural studio appearance:
“My first time in the studio, [label chief] Top Dawg was like, ‘Man, that shit wack.’ Other artists around couldn't handle that. But it made me go back in the booth and go harder.”
And he name-drops classic rap songs when asked about recording emotionally personal songs like his "The Heart Pt. 2," giving shout-outs to Eminem's "The Way I Am," Jay-Z's "Song Cry," Tupac's "Dear Mama."
The interviewer didn't shy away from asking Kendrick about Drake. Both popular rappers have taken jabs at each other through their lyrics in songs such as Kendrick's "Deep Water," "Control," "Pay For It" and "Energy" as well as Drake's "Summer Sixteen," "100," "Used To" and "The Language."
When asked to pick his favorite Drake song, Kendrick responds, “Favorite Drake song [chuckles]. I got a lot of favorite Drake songs. Can't name one off the back. ... He has plenty."
The interviewer goes on to ask if Kendrick prefers when Drake sings or raps. "Both. Yeah," Kendrick quips.
Kendrick hopped on Taylor Swift's 2014 "Bad Blood (Remix)" for her star-studded music video, and at the time, he wasn't aware of or concerned with any of T.Swift's beefs, including the one with Katy Perry:
"[Through laughter] No, I wasn't aware of that, bro. That's a great question. No! On the record, no. Which makes it even more funny now, for sure. That's far beyond my concern. I have to stay away from that, for sure. That's some real beef [laughs]."
The "Bad Blood" music video has been viewed more than 1 billion times since 2014.
Beyoncé and Kendrick performed her Lemonade track "Freedom" at the 2016 BET Awards, giving Kendrick a chance to witness Beyoncé's work ethic:
"She's a perfectionist. Think about the BET performance. She was very particular – the lighting, the camera blocking, the transition from the music to the dancing. It was confirmation of something I already knew.”
Kendrick opened up about collaborating with U2 on 2017's "XXX," calling Bono's activism "inspiring":
“We had a [different] record we were supposed to be doing together. He sent it over, I laid some ideas to it, and we didn't know where it was going. I just happened to have an album coming out, so I just asked him, like, ‘Yo, would you do me this honor of letting me use this record, use this idea that I want to put together because I'm hearing a certain type of 808, a certain drum to it.’ And he was open to it. ... Bono has so much wisdom and so much knowledge, in music and in life. Sitting on the phone with him, I could talk to him for hours. The things he's doing around the world, of just helping people, is inspiring.
Described by peers, fans and himself as the "greatest rapper alive," Kendrick weighed in on if it's ever OK to use a ghostwriter, one of rap's most controversial topics:
“It depends on what arena you're putting yourself in. I called myself the best rapper. I cannot call myself the best rapper if I have a ghostwriter. If you're saying you're a different type of artist and you don't really care about the art form of being the best rapper, then so be it. Make great music. But the title, it won't be there.”
It wouldn't be a 2017 conversation without discussing Donald Trump, for better or worse. He tells Rolling Stone why he's been relatively quiet about Trump recently:
“I mean, it's like beating a dead horse. We already know what it is. Are we gonna keep talking about it or are we gonna take action? You just get to a point where you're tired of talking about it. It weighs you down and it drains your energy when you're speaking about something or someone that's completely ridiculous. So, on and off the album, I took it upon myself to take action in my own community. On the record, I made an action to not speak about what's going on in the world or the places they put us in. Speak on self; reflection of self first. That's where the initial change will start from.”
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