October 20, 2016


Kendrick Lamar on Making a Non-Rap Album: 'I Think I Got the Confidence for It'

Kendrick Lamar is one of the most prolific rappers of our time, but he may be planning to step away from the genre in the future. In a new, extra-long GQ Style magazine interview (print version readable here, 50-minute video above), Rick Rubin asks if K.Dot ever imagines making an album where he doesn't rap. Lamar's response? "Yeah, I think I got the confidence for it. If I can master the idea and make the time to approach it the right way, I think I can push it out."

If he does go that route, it wouldn't be a far stretch as Lamar has toyed with contemporary jazz sounds and vocal melodies on To Pimp a Butterfly. "It's a trip, because I was in the studio one day, and my guy Terrace Martin noticed something about the type of sounds that I was picking," he says about entering those other worlds. "He was like, 'Man, a lot of the chords that you pick are jazz-influenced. You don't understand: You a jazz musician by default.' And that just opened me up. And he just started breaking down everything, the science, going back to Miles, Herbie Hancock."

Lamar also dives into his "Alright" anthem with Rubin, saying he didn't initially think of it as a protest song and that he sat on the beat for six months:

"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?"

The artist also shows love for Eminem and learning about clarity with 2000's The Marshall Mathers LP. "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," Lamar says. 

"Now you gotta go on the road for five months, that go by. Next thing you know, five years going by and you 29 years old. You know?" he tells Rubin. "So I have to find a way to understand the space that I'm in and how I'm feeling at the moment. 'Cause if I don't, it's gonna zoom. I know. I feel it."

Click here to read the full GQ Style interview, and watch a 2015 interview with Kendrick Lamar about his Reebok collaboration below: