As he gears up for his highly-anticipated sophomore album this year, Kendrick Lamar covers the latest issue of Billboard.
“I just like the energy,” he says. “I didn’t go on there to sell a single. I just did what I felt.”
The self-described recluse also opens up about his longtime girlfriend, why he refrains from alcohol and weed, and Taylor Swift, who recently said, “I wish I was best friends with Kendrick Lamar, and I’m not.”
Plus, he speaks out about the high-profile killings of African-Americans by police and why he believes the end is near.
On his evolution as an artist: “I pride myself on writing now rather than rapping. My passion is bringing storylines around and constructing a full body of work, rather than just a 16-bar verse.”
On Taylor Swift’s love for “Backseat Freestyle”: “I thought she just liked the song. That’s a beautiful thing, Taylor Swift enjoying that song and knowing the words.”
On his appearance on “SNL” and “Colbert”: “I don’t want people to take away how cute I look, or how the light is shining off my chain. I want you to take away a great-ass performance.”
On his girlfriend Whitney Alford: “I wouldn’t even call her my girl. That’s my best friend. I don’t even like the term that society has put in the world as far as being a companion—she’s somebody I can tell my fears to.”
On Ferguson: “I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s f**ked up. What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting—it starts from within.”
On the end of the world: “We’re in the last days, man—I truly in my heart believe that. It’s written. I could go on with Biblical situations and things my grandma told me. But it’s about being at peace with myself and making good with the people around me.”
On refraining from alcohol and drugs: “Teenagers don’t get it—we selfish. Go drink, go smoke, go get fu**ed up. Why did I do these things? Because I was brought up around it? It damn sure was in the household. I said, ‘I know what happens to my family and certain friends when they get drunk and they smoke. They get out of their minds, they get violent. And that’s in my blood.’ I have little sips on special occasions, but getting all the way out of my mind may not be a good idea.”
On Drake: “Drake is definitely a great artist in this world … I’m a great artist in my world.”
For Kendrick’s thoughts on Iggy Azalea, Macklemore, and the Grammys, click here.