Kendrick Lamar: In His Own Words

I thought I was going to win Best Rap Album at the Grammys.

Kendrick’s full cover story for XXL Magazine, which he penned himself, is now available for full reading and digesting. The article is a fascinating first person take on everything, from the powerful quotable above to the success he expected for good kid, m.a.a.d city to, of course, his mindset going into the upcoming album.

Here are a few of the excerpts (I especially like the Lauryn Hill story at the bottom.)

On Best Rap Album:
I thought I was going to win Best Rap Album at the Grammys. I put a lot of work in on my album and the biggest thing for me is knowing that it was basically an underground album. It didn’t have big No. 1 records on it and there wasn’t really any commercial hits. It was great songs and I think the message behind it reached as many listeners and believers as a super mainstream album. So for me, when you’re saying, “rap,” that would be my definition of something that deserved an accolade. Yep.

On good kid, m.a.a.d city:
I’d be lying to you to say I knew good kid, m.A.A.d city would be as successful as it has been. In the beginning I was very doubtful. Once I was done, the jitters hit me so fast. I was so confident in making it, because I was like, “This is it, man. Nobody heard this story and if you heard it, you heard it in bits and pieces but I’m finna put it to you in a whole album—from Compton, from the hood, from the streets—it’s a whole other perspective and light, I’ma go back and do the skits just like how Biggie and Dre and Snoop and ’Pac did it. And I’ma tell my story.” Then I wrapped up with it and said, “Man, what’s on the radio right now? I don’t think they doin’ skits and things like that.” I don’t know if the people are gonna understand what I’m talkin’ about on this album because it’s almost like a puzzle pieced together, and albums ain’t been created like this in a long time. Albums that actually still reach the masses, at least.

Meeting Lauryn Hill:
I had a talk with Lauryn Hill and she said, “Try to completely throw away your ego.” How many times can you throw away an ego, you know? It’s tough. It’s something we all battle with. I battle with it all the time and the idea of being in all these places—the big spots, all the events, the lights—it’s all for your ego. It’s all for your own confirmation to be like, okay, I’m somebody. But truthfully, you’ve always been somebody. You don’t need the lights.