2015 was defined by artists such as Kendrick Lamar and albums like To Pimp a Butterfly. It also yielded one of the most successful periods in the young Compton rapper’s career and life. But, the topic of conversation shifts to a somewhat darker direction for Kendrick Lamar’s latest interview. Speaking to NPR, Kendrick Lamar expounded on a variety of issues and tragedies he tackled recently, as well as memories that haunt him to this day. From seeing someone’s chest get “blown out” to friends whose lives were lost over the summer, Kendrick holds nothing back with his remarks and explanations. You can check out some select quotes from the in-depth exchange below. You can also read the full piece over at NPR and listen to it below.
The first murder he witnessed:
“It was outside my apartment unit,” Lamar tells NPR’s David Greene. “A guy was out there serving his narcotics and somebody rolled up with a shotgun and blew his chest out. Admittedly, it done something to me right then and there. It let me know that this is not only something that I’m looking at, but it’s something that maybe I have to get used to — you dig what I’m saying?”
The loved ones he’s lost recently:
“I’ve probably lost more friends in this past summer than any other summer.” One sticks out. “Chad Keaton. He was like my little brother; we grew up in the same community,” Lamar says. “I was actually best friends with his older brother, which is incarcerated right now. And him just always telling me to make sure that Chad is on the right path. And, you know, he was on the right path. But, you know, things happen where sometimes the good are in the wrong places, and that’s exactly what happened. He got shot.”
The story behind his minor “breakdown” in a hotel room while out on tour:
“What was the feeling? The feeling was missing home,” Lamar says. “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. The feeling was, ‘How am I influencing so many people on this stage rather than influencing the ones that I have back home?’ That’s the feeling: being inside the hotel room, and these thoughts I’m just pondering back and forth while I look at the ceiling all night.”
On the controversial “Hypocrite” lines from “The Blacker The Berry”:
“It’s not me pointing at my community; it’s me pointing at myself,” Lamar says. “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.
“The message I’m sending to myself — I can’t change the world until I change myself first,” he adds. “For instance, when Chad was killed, I can’t disregard the emotion of me relapsing and feeling the same anger that I felt when I was 16, 17 — when I wanted the next family to hurt, because you made my family hurt. Them emotions were still running in me, thinking about him being slain like that. Whether I’m a rap star or not, if I still feel like that, then I’m part of the problem rather than the solution.”