Despite his prodigious verbal dexterity, Kendrick Lamar is a man of few words; an artist who lets his lyrics do the talking. That’s what makes the extensive interview with the rapper in Interview magazine’s latest issue a must-read. Well that, and the fact that the interview was conducted by Dave Chappelle.
Lamar and Chappelle are kindred spirits, men who came from humble beginnings and conquered their respective fields thanks to their shared ability to see the world through a very specific lens. That bond is evident in the interview, which touches upon everything from the nature of celebrity, the creative process and the power of self-expression.
It begins with Lamar finding common ground with Chappelle via their chosen art forms, and comparing Chappelle to Snoop Dogg and N.W.A. From there, the conversation turns inward, with Lamar explaining his overarching goal as a creative person.
"When I look at comedy—at Richard Pryor, at you—it’s all self-expression. I apply that same method to my music. I came up listening to N.W.A and Snoop. Like them, it’s in me to express how I feel. You might like it or you might not, but I take that stand." @kendricklamar to #davechappelle 📸 @gstyles. Styling @menamorado. Hair @mauricemanley2. Makeup @mirachai. Intro @chriswallace4. Cc @fabienbaron @interscope
“As I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve learned that my mission statement is really self-expression. I don’t want anybody to classify my music,“ Lamar said. "I want them to say, ‘This is somebody who’s recognizing his true feelings, his true emotions, ideas, thoughts, opinions, and views on the world, all on one record.’”
That record of course, is DAMN., Lamar’s landmark opus that was released to universal acclaim earlier this year. On Wednesday, Lamar launched his world tour in support of that album, and told Chappelle what fans can expect at a Kendrick Lamar show. “I’m enjoying that people aren’t only listening to the album, but hearing the album,” he said. “To go on that stage and perform that record, that’s the most fun I have. I get a full party every night.”
And if that doesn’t convince you to buy your Kendrick Lamar tickets, look what happened in Phoenix , when Lamar launched into DAMN.’s breakout single “Humble.”
He literally stands in awe when the crowd raps almost a full verse of the song a cappella, and is left speechless for three minutes afterwards.
It’s a “holy shit” moment in a life full of them. But the one that stands out most in Lamar’s mind went down on a recent trip to Africa. “I went to South Africa — Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg — and those were definitely the ‘I’ve arrived’ shows,” Lamar told Chappelle. “Outside of the money, the success, the accolades … This is a place that we, in urban communities, never dream of. We never dream of Africa. Like, ‘Damn, this is the motherland.’ That moment changed my whole perspective on how to convey my art.”
Read the rest of Lamar’s conversation with Chappelle here.