Kendrick Lamar stopped by FADER offices recently in support of his major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, out October 22nd on Aftermath/Interscope/Top Dawg. He declined to empty his pockets for a Things I Carry (“I’ve just got my license and a little money…”), but opened up about Barack Obama, being labeled a “conscious rapper” and Top Dawg Entertainment, the tight-knit label where he and the Black Hippy crew came up.
So tell us about the album. It’s really just a self portrait. I feel like everything that people have asked me in interviews should be explained in this one album. How I’m able to think the way I think now—it had to come from a negative place first. Family issues, morals. All that is in one debut. I feel like it’s a whole new market of people that’s listening to me now, so it’s almost like a reintroduction to who I am and furthering that longevity.
Has being on a major label made things easier for you? It’s really just the same procedure. I’m still with this Top Dawg Entertainment company and we already ran this company like a major. Top Dawg: four individual kids off the streets, man, and really just gave them a domain to do something positive. We always did the work. We understood that if we wanted to be amongst the elite, we gotta conduct ourselves. So us joining forces with Interscope is basically a continuance of that, giving us an opportunity to do something constructive with ourselves, and the most positive high ever.
How’s it going with everybody? Ab-Soul’s album seems like it did well. I think every artist on the label is in a great space. We never wanted to present it as only one main artist in the camp. We wanted to solidify everybody as their own individual. That’s what’s happening now. You see Schoolboy Q’s taking off. [Jay] Rock already been there and still working. Ab-Soul. Everybody’s making their own lane and their own path to where people can’t look at it as if Top Dawg Entertainment is Kendrick Lamar. It’s all of us as a collective that’s representing this company.
Stream: Kendrick Lamar, “Backseat Freestyle” (Prod. by Hit-Boy)
Read more of this interview on Fader