Kendrick Lamar finally unleashed DAMN. last week, and he's given fans some further insight into the new record in an extensive sit-down interview with Beats 1 host Zane Lowe.
The pair met up prior to his Coachella headlining set last weekend and discussed some of his hip-hop heroes (like Jay Z, Eminem and 2Pac), his own collaborators (like Rihanna, Mike WiLL Made-It and Kid Capri) and his passion for hip-hop.
It's that passion that drives him to keep his spot atop the rap throne. When Lowe asked if he believed himself to be the "greatest rapper alive," Lamar defended his claim to the title, saying:
I'm so passionate about hip-hop. I don't know what era everybody else comes from but I listened. We play house parties, bro, every night. I love it to a point that I can't even describe it. When I heard these artists say they're the best, coming up, I'm not doing it to have a good song or one good wrap or good hook or good bridge. I want to keep doing it every time, period. And to do it every time, you have to challenge yourself and you have to confirm to yourself, not anybody else, confirm to yourself that you're the best, period. No one can take that away from me, period. That's my drive and that's my hunger, I will always have. At this point right now, the years and the time and the effort and the knowledge and history I've done on the culture and the game I've gotten from those before me and the respect I have for them. I want to hold myself high on that same pedestal 10, 15 years from now.
Lamar also discussed his conscious decision to shift the focus away from the already oft-mentioned-in-music new U.S. President, Donald Trump. He explained:
I wanted more self-self evaluation and discipline, because what's going on now. We're not focusing on him. What's going on now — we focusing on self. You see real different nationalities and cultures are coming together and actually standing up for themselves and I think that's a pure reflection of this record prior to this even happening prior to even coming out. We say okday we can't control — now we see we can control what's going on out there. It was a whole 'nother power that be so what we can now is we can start coming together and figuring out our own problems and home solutions. You know I think, I believe, I know, this is what this album reflects.
Later, he dissected DAMN. highlight and album closer "DUCKWORTH," opening up about the decision to get so explicitly autobiographical on that song that details a crazy coincidental anecdote in which Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith nearly killed Lamar's father while he was working at a KFC.
It was just the right time. Top himself didn't know I was going to do it or even execute it in that fashion, to be the last song or to be anywhere. Just making it make sense. I remember playing it for him, he flipped because further than the song, when you really can hear your life in words that is so true to you and that effected your life one hundred percent through one decision, it really makes you sit back and cherish the moment. I think that's something we all did playing that record. Like man, look where we at. We're recording music for the world to hear and we're taking care of our families. We're blessed. But listen to these words, like this is what happened. This is real life. It's amazing and since a kid I've aways said to myself 'anything is possible and it always comes around 10 fold, confirmation.' And that story is confirmation.
UPDATE (4/21, 2:30 p.m. EDT): Lamar has since also addressed fan theories that another album or release of some kind is on the way. He's now confirmed that there's nothing else coming for the foreseeable future. As of right now, he's 100 percent — emoji and all — focused on DAMN.
KenFolk. ThankU 4 the desire of always anticipating new music of my own. None is coming. My work will be in our future TDE dates tho. 💯#DAMN— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) April 21, 2017
Watch Lowe's full interview with Lamar below.
DAMN. is out now digitally and on CD; a vinyl version is expected to ship in July.
Pick up Lamar's most recent albums on vinyl here.