Kendrick Lamar has reached the point in his career where he only does a few interviews a year, and where every interview is an event. Case in point: Kendrick is on the cover of the new issue of Vanity Fair. The cover story, from writer Lisa Robinson, includes secondary quotes from people like Toni Morrison, LeBron James, Bono, and Eminem, all of them extolling Kendrick’s artistry. (Eminem admits to being jealous of Kendrick’s Pulitzer.) The story mostly concerns Kendrick’s origins, upbringing, and ascendance, and there’s some stuff in there that I didn’t know, like the fact that he was named after Temptations singer Eddie Kendricks. But the most interesting parts might be the moments where Kendrick responds to more recent events.
There is, for instance, the instantly-infamous episode where a woman at Alabama’s Hangout Festival, invited onstage to rap along to his song “m.A.A.d. City,” used the N-word. In that moment, Kendrick stopped her. And in the Vanity Fair piece, here’s what he says about it:
Let me put it to you in its simplest form. I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do. Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city. So many things — “you can’t do that” — whether it’s from afar or close up. So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.
On winning the Pulitzer Prize, Kendrick says this:
It was one of those things I heard about in school, but I never thought I’d be a part of it. [When I heard I got it], I thought, to be recognized in an academic world… whoa, this thing really can take me above and beyond. It’s one of those things that should have happened with hip-hop a long time ago. It took a long time for people to embrace us — people outside of our community, our culture — to see this not just as vocal lyrics, but to see that this is really pain, this is really hurt, this is really true stories of our lives on wax. And now, for it to get the recognition that it deserves as a true art form, that’s not only great for myself, but it makes me feel good about hip-hop in general. Writers like Tupac, Jay-Z, Rakim, Eminem, Q-Tip, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop… It lets me know that people are actually listening further than I expected. When I looked up at that man on the podium today, I just had countless pictures in my mind of my mother putting me in suits to go to school. Suit and tie, from the dollar store, from thrift shops, when I was a kid.
Kendrick also mentions how he’s no longer a fan of the NFL: “I’m less enthused. It’s enraging; I think what Kap [Colin Kaepernick] is doing is honest, and it’s not just his truth, it’s our truth.”
And when asked about Kanye West’s embrace of Donald Trump, Kendrick remains relatively quiet: “He has his own perspective, and he’s on this whole agree to disagree thing, and I would have this conversation with him personally if I want to.”
You can read the full story here.