Image via YouTube

Kendrick Lamar did some of his first interviews since the release of his latest album, To Pimp A Butterfly, today during a brief visit to New York. In conversation with Hot 97 DJs Ebro, Peter Rosenberg, and Laura Stylez, Kendrick touched on some of the inspirations behind his album, what it means to him, and what he wants it to mean to his audience. We collected a few of the rapper’s most compelling insights below.

On the meaning behind To Pimp A Butterfly
“Taking my celebrity and doing good with it. On a deeper level, how the industry treats artists, how they pimp artists out.”

On the inspiration for the sound of the album
“Going in there with the live instrumentation, seeing how much freestyling and improv there was. It would be like 10-15 hours in the studio just vibing out, like a jam session. Then I would go and write…When you bring all these instruments together, it’s going to feel and sound theatrical, like you’re watching a movie…Sophisticated gangster shit. This is my background, this is what I was raised off of. This is the album I always wanted to make.”

On whether his album is a classic
“Man, they’ve been saying that — it’s round 2. Let it live a little bit. Let it rotate, let it vibe out a little bit before you put the stamp on it. It waters it down a little bit. I want people to listen to my music. Initially I made my music for people that’s in prison, because they’ve got nothing but time to listen to it, and study…I want you to really sit, and look at how much work we put behind it because it’s a process — it’s almost a two year process making this album.”

On whether he makes music to compete with the greats of hip-hop
“You’ve gotta think like that, or else what are you doing in the studio…I make albums where I want you to go back and listen to them 100 times.”

on “i”
“That’s the best song I ever wrote. I never thought in a million years I would make a positive record, coming from where I come from. Never in a million years.”

On George Clinton’s presence in the studio
“I just needed him for the conversation.”

On which albums shaped him, politically
“My pops played a lot of Death Certificate, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. I didn’t realize what he was kicking at the time, but then as I got older, I realized he was talking about being a black man in society. Maneuvering through the cracks.”

On coping with celebrity
“Before I started doing music, I was always to myself — Everybody knows that. My mom knows that, my homeboys know that — I wasn’t the loud homie. The loud homie would love this.”


Watch the full interview below:


During his media day in New York, Kendrick also sat down with MTV to give some clarity on the title of the album, and the meaning behind some of the tracks.