Published Dec 30, 2015Kendrick Lamar has been topping year end lists everywhere thanks to this year's powerful LP To Pimp a Butterfly. In addition to garnering critical acclaim, the album launched the rapper into the spotlight as a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement and drew him further away from his roots in Compton, CA. Now, in a new interview with NPR, Lamar has opened up about the process of change that led to his huge year.
After revealing that he witnessed his first murder at the age of five, Lamar discussed the power that early influence can have later on. "You grow up inside these neighbourhoods and these communities, and you have friends, friends that you love, friends that you grew up with since elementary," he told NPR. "And you have their trust, and you have their loyalty. So it brings influence. So no matter how much of a leader I thought I was, I was always under the influence, period. Most of the times, when they were involved in these acts of destruction, I was right there."
He continued, discussing the struggle to find balance between success and his roots, and the cycle of guilt and depression that comes from that juxtaposition. "You can have the platinum album, but when you still feel like you haven't quite found your place in the world — it kind of gives a crazy offset," he explained.
"The feeling was, I should be with my family right now when they're going through hardships, with the loss of my dear friends that's constantly passing while I'm out on this road," said Lamar. "The feeling was, 'How am I influencing so many people on this stage rather than influencing the ones that I have back home?'"
The interview also delves into the tragic loss of life within the community Lamar grew up in, and how the rapper has managed to channel that into deep, though-provoking music. "I think that the depth is needed," he said. "And there's a lot of other artists doing things outside of that depth that I enjoy — that music that I can actually have fun to, and not be in depth and think about, then I appreciate that. But as long as I'm doing it right now, I'ma continue to say just a little bit more that pertains to what's going on."
You can listen to the interview below or head over here to read the full story at NPR.