Cover Up: More Exclusive Kendrick Lamar Quotes

Grammy-nominated rapper Kendrick Lamar dishes on his Grammy nominations and more.

JET’s timely cover story on Grammy-nominated rapper Kendrick Lamar is generating quite a bit of buzz.

But we withheld a few gems from the interview that hit newsstand shelves on Jan. 27. Read below to see what the Compton rapper had to say about his Grammy nominations, advice from Dr. Dre and that “Control” verse.


Going back to [Jay-Z], he set the trend to make that the trendy thing to do. When I was 17, that’s all I wanted to do was not write my raps. I was doing it for years! For years, ’til I perfected it. When I felt like I perfected it, I realized it started becoming a trend ‘cuz you saw people interviewed talking about “Yeah, I don’t write.” But then you listen to the songs and be like, “Damn, this shit is trash.” I was like, “I’m not ever gonna say I don’t write again” or go into the studio and not write. I mean I do it however it comes, I’ll write it on my hand, a piece of paper, go in the booth and freestyle it–as long as it sounds right. I’m glad the [Beats] commercial came out the way it did. We’re students, but also perfectionists. That’s how me and Dre are in the studio. We want to make sure it has the feel to it.


We still trippin’ off that now. The fact of knowing my album was not nothing close to a commercial album, I didn’t have no records in the Top 40, the concept was raw, the raps was raw. I didn’t really have that type of crossover appeal on my first joint. For the Grammys to honor me in the category…not just rap, but album of the year…that right there says how impactful hip-hop is. It wasn’t about the sales, it was about the impact. I think a lot of people were just touched by the album. I give them cahoots for just acknowledging and know that and being in tune with what really drives people and not just the sales. The impact of the artistry.


Real talk. It’s just funny how when you’re in the light and the world is paying attention to you, everything is so microscopic. I knew the verse would be cool and clever, but I personally think they ran with it and took it waaaay overboard. I’m like, ‘Wow. Are you serious?’ I’ve done a billion verses before, but for the simple fact there hasn’t been that much confidence in a rap, people will take it and flip it and make it into a whole other issue. They’re not used to that no more. They’re used to a bunch of artists doing a bunch of songs together and not saying they’re the best anymore. So when you get that, you take it to a certain type level of aggression. Flip it and take it to the next level. Something they aren’t used to, so I can’t really blame them … If anything I give Big Sean the utmost respect. He’s just as competitive. He’s going to let sh*t fly.


That’s the part I’m still figuring out right now. I couldn’t even give you answer for that because my life is so indulged with music…it’s like scary once you’re in it, you really eat, sleep, sh*t, breathe it. That’s the machine I’ve turned into. I really have to start working on my own character, working on myself. I got to work on knowing other people’s feelings. The people that actually care about me. Sometimes you get swarmed and swamped into this business, that’s all you can think about is your next idea. You forget about people feelings toward you, you know?. That’s something I’m working on with myself right now.


He just said, “You’ve got to find that balance.” And be straight up and down honest with the people that care about me. Basically, coming to a meeting place where we can meet. It’s about understanding. At the beginning they can’t, you can’t expect anybody to understand that, you’re always in the studio, you’re always on the road, because they don’t live that lifestyle. They never even had anybody in their family to live that lifestyle come close. At first it’ll be frustrating, but you really have to stand in their shoes. How can you expect them to understand that you’re gone all the time? Or have to work all the time, ‘cuz you want to stay on your toes. So it’s really about having that communication with them and not letting it slip away two or three years apart. ‘Cuz you might not be able to get them back after that. They might think you’re all the way gone, and you might think they’re all the way gone. So that was what he told me, just to make sure to have that communication and understanding and be straight up honest with it.