Kendrick Lamar is the subject of a new Rolling Stone cover story out this morning. The piece gets into detail about the making of DAMN. — “The initial goal was to make a hybrid of my first two commercial albums” — and contains K-Dot’s remarks about subjects including Donald Trump, ghostwriting in hip-hop, his favorite Drake song, and the conflict between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. It’s a great interview! Let’s break down some of the highlights.
Kendrick explains that he is fine with artists using ghostwriters as long as they aren’t trying to pass themselves off as the best rapper alive:
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.
He also says he didn’t know Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” was addressing Katy Perry when he jumped on the remix and implicitly took Swift’s side in their beef:
[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].
Here’s his rationale for limiting his remarks against Donald Trump to a few offhand swipes:
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.
When asked about his favorite Drake song, Kendrick replied, “I got a lot of favorite Drake songs. Can’t name one off the back. … He has plenty.” He also says he’s addressing himself on the chorus of “HUMBLE,” compares his own meticulous studio process with Future’s more instantaneous approach, explains how Bono ended up on “XXX,” and shares his thoughts on his cousin Carl’s Black Israelite theology as sampled on the album: “That shit’s truth.” All this and much more can be found in the interview, which is definitely worth your time.