It's deep-rooted, the music of being young and dumb, it's never muted, in fact, it's much louder where I'm from.
When I'm in the studio, I'm looking for creativity I haven't matched yet, a feeling I haven't felt. It's a high.
When I talk to kids, I'm really listening. When I do that, we have a little bit of a bigger connection than me being Kendrick Lamar and you being a student. It's almost like we're friends. Because a friend listens.
I used to consider the listener. But now I'm in a space where, if I'm not inspired, I can't really do the music. I can't feel it.
I always was that person who was hard on myself and challenged myself no matter what I was doing, whether it was passing third grade or playing basketball.
The way people look at me these days -- that's the same way I looked at President Obama before I met him. We tend to forget that people who've attained a certain position are human.
Before finding music, I didn't have too many aspirations. I wanted to hang out, make a little money from whatever I had to do.
I got a greater purpose. God put something in my heart to get across, and that's what I'm going to focus on, using my voice as an instrument and doing what needs to be done.
Me, as a person, I grow. I'm like a chameleon. You know? That is a gift and a curse for me. But more so a gift, because it never puts me in a box.
No matter how much good things are going on around you, you still have them little negative things that just wanna come out in front. But you bottle them in because you have so many other great things, but they still there.
This is the thing about hip-hop music and where people get it most misconstrued: It's all hip-hop. You can't say that just what I do is hip-hop, because hip-hop is all energies. James Brown can get on the track and mumble all day. But guess what? You felt his soul on those records.
How am I influencing so many people on this stage rather than influencing the ones that I have back home?
I went back and studied the game, was a student of the game and worked on my craft and dedicated myself, you know? A lot of my music revolves around me growing up in Compton. I want to tell a different story that's never been told before, of a good kid in a mad city.
Poetic justice, poetic justice.. if I told you that a flower bloom in a dark room would you trust it. I mean I write poems in these songs.
Everybody looking at you crazy,
What you gon' do?
Lift up your head and keep moving,
Or let the paranoia haunt you?
Once I looked in the mirror and decided this is who I am, and I'm not scared of who I am, and I'm not scared that I can't be like you, and I'm good with just doing me, that's when I found myself, as a man.
I think all Geminis are kids at heart. And that's why they're able to simplify some of the most complex things and connect with people. It's having that kid spirit.
I'm listening to a lot of oldies.A lot of Al Green, Marvin Gaye. Luther Vandross... they were some of my icons.
While you have people who are actually fronting for your needs and wants, sometimes your needs and wants may not be right for you. The people around you are just trying to keep their jobs.
The opposite of love? Vice. Temptation. The negative influences that we have. The bad energy that comes around us and makes us do certain things. To me, it's always been a war between the two.
The thing about hip-hop is they always want to classify you as one particular artist, but hip-hop is about going outside the box and expressing yourself however you want to.
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.
A lot of incredible rap albums over the past couple of decades have deserved Album of the Year. 'To Pimp a Butterfly' is an extension of those albums.
The limit is the sky, and I live on cloud. And I recognize my nemesis gon try, to put a finish in my shine. But pussy we'll hurt you, life in the power circle.
Brother Kendrick Lamar: he's not a rapper, he's a writer, he's an author. And if you read between the lines, we'll learn how to love one another. But you can't do that, I said you can't do that, without loving yourself first.
You can't change where you from. You can't take a person out of their zone and expect them to be somebody else now that they in the record industry. It's gonna take years. Years of travelling. Years of meeting people. Years of seeing the world.
We all, we all good people just trying to escape the negative influence that come around us and that's the story of my life, you know? Trying my best to get around the ills and I bumped my head a few times but I think, you know, music is my savior for right now, for me and my whole group.
Believe in God, it's only one God. F*** all that religion s***. Believe in one God, and do right. Try your best to do right, we ain't perfect. Just do that and everything will be straight.
We all seem to stumble, planning our own demise,
Getting the big picture, and making it wallet-sized.
I probably spent more time listening to albums than writing songs. But I think that gave me all the tricks in terms of wordplay, from how I pronounced my words to the actual delivery.
The hardest thing for -- not only an artist but for anybody to do is look themselves in the mirror and acknowledge, you know, their own flaws and fears and imperfections and put them out there in the open for people to relate to it.
And I'm not sure why I'm infatuated with death,
My imagination is surely an aggravation of threats...
Maybe cause I'm a dreamer, and sleep is the cousin of death,
Really stuck in the scheme of wondering when I'mma rest.
I am from the inner city, the ghetto. If I can use my platform to carry on a legacy and talk about something that's real, I have to do that, period.
My parents were fairly young in the city of Compton. So the things that they played -- you know, that was the hip crowd. So I was being exposed to all these ideas, from Big Daddy Kane to Eazy-E to the Bay Area -- Too Short, E-40 -- you know, back to Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers.
You can have the platinum album. But, you know, when you still feel like you haven't quite found your place in the world, it kind of gives a crazy offset.
Teenagers expressing this on a daily basis in the middle of the streets -- you can't help but believe we are in the mind state of taking our losses and changing people's perceptions of us and our community. We are strong. Our families are tired of being hurt.
In all my days of schooling, from preschool all the way up to 12th grade, there was not one white person in my class. Literally zero.
Hip-hop and being a pro athlete go hand in hand. When they come together, it's a win, not just for your business brand but also for culture.
Every time I write these words they become a taboo,
Making sure my punctuation curve, every letter here's true,
Living my life in the margin, and that metaphor was proof.
God to me is love. It's the ruler of all things, whether it's with a person or with music or with your TV. I feel like it's this energy. God is energy, love is energy.
What separated me from all my homeboys is the fact that I didn't get caught inside the reality. I was always dreaming about doing something else or going somewhere else.
I'm just writing, writing, writing. I keep these tablets on me until I'm inspired to go back in and make the music. I never take a break from my pen, because I pride myself on that.
The HiiiPower Movement is a movement that's going on all throughout the world like a virus. It's about being on a higher level than the industry. It's a movement we started to be above all the bullshit that's been going on.
I felt like, what better way for people to understand me by taking the initiative in giving my real name, my name that moms taught me so y'all actually know what's going on in my life and my music.
I see conflict. But the conflict is what makes it relatable. I'm conflicted; you're conflicted. I'm not perfect -- nobody is. I'm just blessed to be able to express my conflict through song.
My grandma always said, Where there's a will, there's a way. I think it's just naturally in our DNA to be able to survive. We was always taught that: to survive. When you talking about slavery, it's to survive.
Look inside my soul and you can find gold and maybe get rich. Look inside of your soul and you can find out it never exists.
I live this life at a pace that anyone can go.
Know your place, and dedicate your role
...To the faith that you'll die alone.
I don't talk about these things if I haven't lived them, and I've hurt people in my life. It's something I still have to think about when I sleep at night.
Whatever pressure I feel all comes from me, from within. I always was that person who was hard on myself and challenged myself no matter what I was doing, whether it was passing third grade or playing basketball.
My lyrics say I have morals, I have confidence, I have weaknesses, I have strong points, that I am a human being.
So next time you feel like your world is about to end, I hope you studied because He's testing your faith again.
Toronto's one of my favourite places. If I were to move anywhere out of California, it would be Toronto. Definitely.
Am I the only one who measures time using songs? Oh it only took me 4 songs to get here! that's not to long!
Groups break up because they never got across what they wanted to do personally, and they have creative differences, and egos start to clash.
My whole thing is to inspire, to better people, to better myself forever in this thing that we call rap, this thing that we call hip hop.
I'm Machiavelli's offspring, I'm the king of New York, king of the coast, one hand, I juggle them both.
I've got an extra-specific story about Dr. Dre. I saw him when I was 9 years old in Compton -- him and Tupac. They were shooting the second 'California Love' video. My pops had seen him and ran back to the house and got me, put me on his neck, and we stood there watching Dre and Pac in a Bentley.
My folks ain't graduated from high school or nothing like that, so we always had to struggle in the family -- and I come from a big family.
I always thought money was something just to make me happy. But I've learned that I feel better being able to help my folks, 'cause we never had nothing. So just to see them excited about my career is more of a blessing than me actually having it for myself.
I always felt like there was a certain standard of music that I had to do from the beginning, even when I didn't have the recognition that I have now.
I learned, when I look in the mirror and tell my story, that I should be myself and not peep whatever everybody is doing.
People are used to music that justifies street culture but something that's not touched on is why these kids act the way they act, live the way they live.
My pops and my mom started playing Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers and all these people, but at the same time, they always had Snoop on right behind it in the same mix.
From the moment I started writing raps, I was always aware of the pressure. I always wanted to live up to how huge Snoop got, how huge Dre got, how huge Pac got. I was always aware.
The best thing is to always keep honest people around, because when you have a bunch of yes men around that know that you're making a mistake but let you go on with it, that's when it ruins your mind state as an artist.
I look at where I'm at today and realize that most of my success is owed to the mentors that was in my life.
We're in the last days, man -- I truly, in my heart, believe that. It's written. I could go on with biblical situations and things my grandma told me. But it's about being at peace with myself and making good with the people around me.
Eventually you get to this point where you understand what you want to do and get across and sound like.
Being acknowledged for your work is always a great accomplishment, whether it's people in my city, kids in the street, all the way up to the Grammys.
I think my worst problem is actually living in the moment and understanding everything that's going on. I feel like I'm in my own bubble.
If my edge is dull, my sword is dull, and I don't want to fight another guy whose sword is dull. If you've got two steel swords going back and forth hitting each other, what's gonna happen? Both of them are going to get sharper. Everybody that's in the industry has lost their edge.
People have to go through trials and tribulations to get where they at. Do your thing -- continue to rock it -- because obviously, God wants you here.
When everybody looks at our generation of kids, they always call us the misfits -- you know, like we just don't give a damn.
When I ask OGs why there's so much division in the streets, nobody never really knows. But you know one thing that everybody always mention? A woman.
When I went back to my old high school, all these kids looking at me like I'm the real big homie, the same way I look at Jay Z, Nas, or Dr. Dre. You would've thought Michael Jackson walked through that joint off the excitement that they had.
My passion is bringing storylines around and constructing a full body of work rather than just a 16-bar verse.
My moms always told me, 'How long you gonna play the victim?' I can say I'm mad and I hate everything, but nothing really changes until I change myself.
When you go on your Twitter or look down your Timeline and it's all great positivity -- I love that. But at the same time, it can really divert you from what your purpose is or what you're trying to do. And I've seen artists get caught up in that.
I had to come from something, come from a place that was negative and positive but the majority of it is a negative place.
I don't really believe in the type of pressure that people are wanting to put on the type of music that I make.