New York Times/Craig McDean Kendrick Lamar
3.1.2017

Kendrick Lamar Reveals Influence Behind New Album

All eyes are on Kendrick Lamar as he readies the follow-up to his Grammy-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly. While he’s kept relatively quiet about the new effort, he finally opens up about it in a revealing interview with The New York Times’ T Magazine.

Modeling Calvin Klein, AG, Joseph, Falke, and Novesta, K-Dot explained that family — including his two younger brothers — is front-and-center. But, recent events have also been making an impact on him and his new music, he said.

“I think now, how wayward things have gone within the past few months, my focus is ultimately going back to my community and the other communities around the world where they’re doing the groundwork,” he said. “To Pimp a Butterfly was addressing the problem. I’m in a space now where I’m not addressing the problem anymore. We’re in a time where we exclude one major component out of this whole thing called life: God. Nobody speaks on it because it’s almost in conflict with what’s going on in the world when you talk about politics and government and the system.”

Asked if this would influence new material, Lamar said: “It’s very urgent.”

Adding to this, K-Dot offered an analogy of a daughter to explain how he wants his new album to feel. “This is what goes on in my mind as a writer,” he said. “One day, I may have a little girl. And it’s a girl in particular…She’s gonna grow up. She’s gonna be a child I adore, I’m gonna always love her, but she’s gonna reach that one point where she’s gonna start experiencing things. And she’s gonna say things or do things that you may not condone, but it’s the reality of it and you know she was always gonna get to that place. And it’s disturbing. But you have to accept it. You have to accept it and you have to have your own solutions to figure out how to handle the action and take action for it.

“When I say ‘the little girl,’ it’s the analogy of accepting the moment when she grows up,” he continued. “We love women, we enjoy their company. At one point in time I may have a little girl who grows up and tells me about her engagements with a male figure — things that most men don’t want to hear. Learning to accept it, and not run away from it, that’s how I want this album to feel.”

Lamar’s next album will be his third official major label LP. His first was 2012’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city and that project helped him understand his ability to make an impact beyond California.

“Truthfully, I figured that only people from my community would understand good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” he said. “When I say ‘my community,’ I’m talking about Compton, Long Beach, L.A., the Bay Area, San Francisco, Oakland. For them to be like: ‘He’s the champ! He knows what we go through and what we dealing with’ — I’m talking about growing up in a gang-infested community in L.A. So the album comes out and then I go on tour and I’m rockin’, I’m on stage and I see that the energy is the same as it was when I was at home in Compton. And I couldn’t understand it, because I’m like, how can you connect to this? How can you connect to a feeling like you’re locked in a box because of the gang culture? And one particular fan broke it down to me: ‘I connect through your music not because I know about the gang culture; it’s the sense of wanting to be set free.’ Simple as that. He said, ‘That’s the message that you get across in this album. You’re dealing with that, but I’m dealing with drug abuse; you’re talking about the gang culture and you want to escape that and I want to escape my own self-afflictions and addictions. That’s where the connection comes from.’ And when I understood that and it resonated with me I felt like, O.K., it’s always a line of communication where we can agree on something: We just choose to or choose not to.”