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Kendrick Lamar Interview @ The Masquerade

Posted by LuisReyes on Apr 2

Kendrick Lamar on stage at the Masquerade - ATL, GA.


Words and photos by Dwight Ross

There was special kind of energy in the atmosphere during Kendrick Lamar's first performance in the city of Atlanta at The Masquerade. He was over 2000 miles away from home but the music heads in Atlanta made him feel like he never left. From the moment he took the stage the crowd embraced him and paid attention word for word. It was as if he were a hip hop professor giving his pupils knowledge of the past, present and future through his music. The 23 year old Compton, California native has come a long way. From listening to oldies and Tupac in his household growing up, to gracing the XXL cover as a member of the XXL Freshman 11 and working with the legendary Dr. Dre on the Detox album. He performed a good amount of his standout songs from the "Kendrick Lamar EP" and "Kendrick Lamar Overly Dedicated" including two of my favorites "I Do This" and "Michael Jordan" with assistance from his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmate Schoolboy Q who performed 2 of his songs as well. Kendrick Lamar also displayed his crafty wordplay during his "Look Out For Detox" performance which was also a tribute to the recently passed Nate Dogg. It did not matter what songs were performed, the crowd was rapping every bar right along with him. The energy on stage was infectious and it spread throughout the whole crowd. If this is any indication that the best is yet to come then his future will be filled with bright lights.

I had the opportunity of interviewing Kendrick Lamar after the show and asking him about how his career started and what he has learned on his journey as his popularity in music rises.

Dwight: This is your first show in Atlanta. How was it for you? How was the crowd?

Kendrick Lamar: It was good. They gave me the same energy LA gave me. I was amazed at how they knew every word and they participated. The whole energy was positive.

Dwight: What made you decide to chose a career in music as opposed to choosing a different path?

Kendrick Lamar: I think it started with my household first. My pops would play a lot of west coast music and oldies so I was always around music. I think that had a lot to do with the passion I wanted to pursue. At the age of 13 I started writing my own raps. I was a big Tupac fan and he passed and I felt there was a void missing in the game. DMX came out with his album and I was rejuvenated I thought to myself, this is that real shit right here and I got inspired and started writing my own shit. A lot of the homies in the hood heard my shit and said "you sound alright man." I got in the studio at 16 with Top Dawg Entertainment and I've been developing since.

Dwight: At 16?

Kendrick Lamar: Yeah 16. I've always had a real natural passion for this because it's fun and it's still fun to me to this day and that's how I want it be. When you start looking at it as your work, that's when it becomes a problem. You start thinking too much and critiquing yourself.

Dwight: You've been working with Dr. Dre for a few months now. What are some of the different things he has shown you about yourself to help with your development as an artist?

Kendrick Lamar: The real meaning of perfecting the art. I used to be in the studio and think I was hard on myself with the vocals. Going into the studio with him he humbled me all the way down and said I wasn't going hard enough. That's why this man's music sounds like this and nobody else can match it. It's the sound, the perfection. That goes from writing to the vocals to producing. That's what he has taught me about music. Also to be myself, to have my own insight to what I want to do. When I get into the studio he is not telling me to get more exposure be like Common, Snoop or any of them. He said "No, be yourself and I'm going to help you build on that."

Dwight: Who are some of the other veterans in the game that you have learned from?

Kendrick Lamar: Quik (DJ Quik). He gave me the same type of advice. You know they are both OGs of the same caliber of the same era and he showed me the game like that too. Along side of that they both tell me about life in general. He is just real people and that's what nobody understands. Go into the studio with Dre. There are all of these rumors about him but he talks to me just like he acknowledges everybody in the room. He will shake hands and say "how are you doing" and actually talk to you. These are millionaires, billionaires talking to people about everyday life. They talk about life a lot and just telling me how to stay afloat and watch out for certain people with negative energy. I think the world is surrounded by energy and you got to know how to distinguish the good from the bad and that is something Dre is big on and Quik is the same way. That's why they are successful.

Dwight: One of the first joints I heard from you off the EP was "Wanna Be Heard" and that first line about wanting to rap like Jay-z caught me. What inspired that line?

Kendrick Lamar: That was me reminiscing of the development stages of me trying to be a rapper and what I thought was cool. Jay-Z is the ultimate rapper everybody knows that. I got to a point where I was studying him for so long that I started to sound like him. It was just a development process like I said. I stayed in the studio and took a niche from Jay-Z, took a niche from Nas and it developed all the way into me having my own sound which is Kendrick Lamar. That's me. That's why I said that because I remembered being in the studio and having the same flow and everything.

Dwight: My last question for you. Over about a year you was getting your name out there and now your buzz is growing tremendously right now. How has everything been for you going through the transition? Now you have the major labels and the A&Rs beating your door down.

Kendrick Lamar: It feels great man. Ultimately it feels good because I know now that people are actually liking genuine music. It's hard to see that when you can't go to these different states and see these people say "I love it, keep doing what you're doing." That feels good instead of just being behind the mic and putting it out. You can't see the responses on the net all the time because those are the biggest haters, but when you actually go out and touch these people that lets you know you're doing something. That's what the buzz really means to me. The people.


Written by LuisReyes

Topics: News, Kendrick Lamar, A3C Update, Dr Dre

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