King Kendrick is ready for his close-up. The Compton kingpin sat down with comedic legend Dave Chappelle for the August issue of Interview.
Lamar, who the magazine hails as the “greatest living rapper,” dons designer threads by Raf Simons, Phillip Lim, Zegna, and Balenciaga in the stylish photos, shot by Gregory Harris.
The interview ranges from K-Dot’s acclaimed album DAMN. to his trip to Africa, and it finds Kung Fu Kenny opening up about his artistic mission statement.
“As I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve learned that my mission statement is really self-expression,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to classify my music. I want them to say, ‘This is somebody who’s recognizing his true feelings, his true emotions, ideas, thoughts, opinions, and views on the world, all on one record.’ I want people to recognize that and to take it and apply it to their own lives. You know what I’m saying? The more and more I get out and talk to different people, I realize they appreciate that–me being unapologetic in whatever views and approach I have.”
Throughout the Q&A, Chappelle celebrates Lamar’s skills and growth, saying that Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) warned him about K-Dot’s ascent many years ago. “He said to me that you’re the one,” added Dave. “Turns out he was right.”
See photos and highlights from the cover story below.
On Comedy and Rap: “When I look at comedy—at Richard Pryor, at you—it’s all self-expression. I apply that same method to my music. I came up listening to N.W.A and Snoop. Like them, it’s in me to express how I feel. You might like it or you might not, but I take that stand.”
On His Audience: “I really focus on what my fans will take from it, people living their day-to-day lives. At the end of the day, the music isn’t for me; it’s for people who are going through their struggles and want to relate to someone who feels the same way they do. I’ve got to take Mom out of the equation. I’ve got to go all-in, expressing myself, right there in the moment.”
On Africa’s Impact: “I went to South Africa—Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg—and those were definitely the ‘I’ve arrived’ shows. Outside of the money, the success, the accolades … This is a place that we, in urban communities, never dream of. We never dream of Africa. Like, ‘Damn, this is the motherland.’ You feel it as soon as you touch down. That moment changed my whole perspective on how to convey my art.”
On Inspiration: “It comes from everywhere. I think now it initially starts on tour. I like to talk to people; I don’t care if it’s a kid or an 80-year-old woman, I talk to people. Then I return to the studio and see what comes together at the end of the day—but it’s definitely a process.”
On Fan Interpretations: “Everybody has their own way of hearing songs. My fans are usually pretty on point. Sometimes they go all the way to the bottom of it. It’s fascinating to me how far an idea can go. I wrote most of my first album in my mom’s kitchen, and now I can go around the world and hear people recite those lyrics, and understand the story, even though they’re not from the same area I grew up in.”
On a Balanced Lifestyle: “It will never be easy. There are so many people pulling at me at one time—some want the business, some want my love, some just want my support, just to be there or to acknowledge them the same way I used to. To be able to figure that out is an ongoing process, because there’s always another show, another album, another moment that I don’t want to miss. But I’m pacing myself. I hope the powers that be keep me on a straight course.”