Craig McDean/i-D

Kendrick Lamar Covers i-D: Talks Trump, Obama, & Best Verses

Kendrick Lamar covers i-D Magazine, providing a rare in-depth interview about his music, his purpose, and the current state of this country.

As part of the magazine’s Winter 2017 “Sounding Off” issue, the Compton kingpin speaks about how President Donald Trump was elected. “We all are baffled,” he explains. “It is something that completely disregards our moral compass.”

Describing the stark differences between this administration and President Barack Obama’s, King Kendrick focused on “morals, dignity, principles, common sense.”

“How can you follow someone who doesn’t know how to approach someone or speak to them kindly and with compassion and sensitivity?” he asked, before explaining how the current president is fueling his drive. “It’s just building up the fire in me,” he explained. “It builds the fire for me to keep pushing as hard as I want to push.”

Elsewhere in the Touré-penned story, for which he was photographed by Craig McDean, Kung Fu Kenny speaks about hip-hop, his best verses, and “Alright’s” impact. He also explains how he balances life as a human being with his “responsibility” as an MC.

“When I’m gone,” he explained, “I can rest peacefully knowing that I contributed to the evolution of this right here, the mind.”

Read additional quotes from the cover story below.

On President Obama: “I was talking to Obama and the craziest thing he said was, ‘Wow, how did we both get here?’ Blew my mind away. I mean, it’s just a surreal moment when you have two black individuals, knowledgeable individuals, but who also come from these backgrounds where they say we’ll never touch ground inside these floors…That’s what blows me up. Being in there and talking to him and seeing the type of intelligence that he has and the influence that he has, not only on me, but on my community. It just always takes me back to the idea of how far we have come along with this idea about how [much] further we can go. Just him being in office sparks the idea that us as a people, we can do anything that we want to do. And we have smarts and the brains and the intelligence to do it.”

On Hip-Hop: “Hip-hop plays two ways in my head. It plays as a contact sport, and also as something that you connect to—songwriting. Growing up and listening to battles between Nas and JAY-Z, that’s the sport for me. That’s where it can get funky, that’s where I can say whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want. Then there’s the other side, which is showing something that people can actually relate to, and connect with. I have that competitive nature, and I also have the compassion to talk about something that’s real.”

On “Fear” Having His Best Verses: “It’s completely honest. The first verse is everything that I feared from the time that I was seven years old. The second verse I was 17, in the third it’s everything I feared when I was 27. These verses are completely honest.”

On “Alright”: “I’d say that’s one of my greatest records because it gave these kids an actual voice and an actual practice to go out there and make a difference. They’re going out and they’re walking the walk and talking the talk whether it’s inside their communities, whether it’s inside their juvenile systems. They wanna make change.”

On His Responsibility: “I’m still a human being, I’m still a person, I still have family, I still have my own personal problems. But I have to give to the world. I think that’s my responsibility, [to learn] from my mistakes [and to spread] the knowledge that I have, the wisdom that I have. It’s not just a job or entertainment for me, this is what I have to offer to the world.”