Talking candidly to GQ Australia, Lamar bounced through the various happenings that have shaped who he is today — from his parents’ approach to bringing him up to leaving home. The rapper also takes a look back at his career, revealing his delight at winning a Pulitzer and the importance of Good Kid, M.A.D.D City.
Lamar also touched on more recent subjects, revealing why he called out a fan who said the N-word on stage at one of his gigs and Kanye West’s controversial views on slavery.
Here’s a round-up of the interviews key moments.
On his mother’s support
“My mother encouraged me to dream – she was very proud of my efforts. My third-grade teacher came up to my mother once at a parent-teacher meeting and she said, ‘Your son used a word that I was totally amazed by – he said audacity’. Even then, it gave me an advantage in life, to be able to take information, listen to it, and take a perspective without judging it and do my own research.”
And his father’s critique
“The duality was that my father was more like, ‘OK, good, now do it again’. There never was a super-embrace – and it gave me an understanding of being critiqued. Almost like ‘I know you can do it better, so I’m not gonna show you how great you are already.’ It was a manipulation that worked in my favour later in life; by the time I was being critiqued, there was nothing you could tell me, because I know it’s not my best anyway.”
On the violence in Good Kid, m.A.A.d City
“That was our world. I remember when Good Kid came out, the people I grew up with couldn’t understand how we made that translate through music. They literally cried tears of joy when they listened to it – because these are people who have been shunned out of society. But I know the kinds of hearts they have; they’re great individuals. And for me to tell my story, which is their story as well, they feel that someone has compassion for us, someone does see us further than just killers or drug dealers. We were just kids.”
On racial slurs and that infamous fan incident
“Let me put it to you in its simplest form. I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do. Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city. So many things – ‘you can’t do that’ – whether it’s from afar or close up. So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.”
On winning a Pulitzer Prize
“For it to get the recognition that it deserves as a true art form, that’s not only great for myself, but it makes me feel good about hip-hop in general. Writers like Tupac, Jay-Z, Rakim, Eminem, Q-Tip, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop… It lets me know that people are actually listening further than I expected. When I looked up at that man on the podium today, I just had countless pictures in my mind of my mother putting me in suits to go to school. Suit and tie, from the dollar store, from thrift shops, when I was a kid.”
On Kanye’s statements about Trump and slavery
“He has his own perspective, and he’s on this whole agree to disagree thing, and I would have this conversation with him personally if I want to.”
To read the interview in full, head over to GQ Australia.
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