Kendrick Lamar has had an absolutely huge year, topping countless year-end lists, and securing himself an impressive 11 Grammy nominations, more than any other artist in 2015. Kendrick sat down with NPR to discuss his biggest year yet, opening up about what success has meant for him, why he makes the music he does, and how his upbringing in Compton in the ’80s and ’90s influenced his artistic output.
In the interview, Kendrick reveals that he witnessed his first murder when he was only five, “It was outside my apartment unit.” He explained further, “A guy was out there serving his narcotics and somebody rolled up with a shotgun and blew his chest out. Admittedly, it done something to me right then and there. It let me know that this is not only something that I’m looking at, but it’s something that maybe I have to get used to.”
He mentioned how he stayed in the studio mastering his craft to avoid getting roped into the darker side of the communities he grew up with, but when his album good kid, m.A.A.d city went platinum, it became a little too much for him. “You can have the platinum album, but when you still feel like you haven’t quite found your place in the world — it kind of gives a crazy offset. When you go inside these places, no matter how much money you have, no matter how much success, when you still feel like you’re not comfortable, where’s the feeling in that?”
Even though his music has been praised for its depth, Kendrick says it’s important to have music that can be fun, too: “I think that the depth is needed, and there’s a lot of other artists doing things outside of that depth that I enjoy — that music that I can actually have fun to, and not be in depth and think about, then I appreciate that. But as long as I’m doing it right now, I’ma continue to say just a little bit more that pertains to what’s going on.”
Read the rest of the personal, in-depth interview here.