Photo Credit: XXL Magazine
In a recent interview with XXL Magazine, hip hop pioneer Kendrick Lamar discusses how his music influenced inner city youth, what it’s like being a role model and how he hates the word “famous”.
Nobody ever really asks about what it’s like trying to adapt to fame and money and how much of a depression it can make for you. How much of a depression it could put you in knowing that so many kids hang on to your words. I can’t make a song like “i” without being in that dark place. “i” comes from going overseas, going to New York, being in L.A. and hearing kids saying, “Kendrick, I was gonna kill myself last week. Section.80, good kid, m.A.A.d citysaved my life.” Or “I was gonna kill myself tonight until I came to your show.”
I think one of my biggest battles within myself is embracing leadership. You always grow up and you hate the term “role model.” You would say, “I don’t wanna be a role model. I don’t want none of that.” But in actuality, you are the biggest role model. It’s impossible to fight the title of role model. Especially when the type of music I make is so personal. People feel like they can relate to me or that they are me. They feel like they know my whole life story even though we from different worlds. So when I go out and meet them in public, I don’t get a response like, “Kendrick, will you sign this real quick?” Or, “I wanna just take this picture with you.” No, they want to have full conversations. I find out that they live their lives by my music and that right there is something.
I think one of my biggest assets is not knowing how famous I am. Or even excluding the word, I hate the word “famous.” I’m aware of it. I know people treat me different because of it. And the more I am aware of that and play into it, the more I become detached from the real world. So it’s really about balance. The more somebody opens the door for me and I walk through without acknowledging that they opened the door for me, the more I become separate from others.
I had a talk with Lauryn Hill and she said, “Try to completely throw away your ego.” How many times can you throw away an ego, you know? It’s tough. It’s something we all battle with. I battle with it all the time and the idea of being in all these places—the big spots, all the events, the lights—it’s all for your ego. It’s all for your own confirmation to be like, okay, I’m somebody. But truthfully, you’ve always been somebody. You don’t need the lights.