Kendrick Lamar and Anthony ‘Top Dawg’ Tiffith cover Billboard Magazine’s latest issue. In the rare interview, the two discuss how they acquired 4.72 percent of the overall market share in R&B/Hip Hop to date. They talk about their overall success with the label, their initial deal plus much more. Take a look at some of the interview below and read the full story over at Billboard.
Billboard: Top, how did you encourage creativity in your artists early on?
Anthony Tiffith: Growing up in the era of the gangsta shit, a lot of my friends were getting killed, a lot of friends were in the pen, I got shot. When I got with the [TDE artists], it was up to me to show them something different — to lock them in my studio and make them build a bond as brothers, and struggle a little bit. I had the money to do whatever I wanted, but they weren’t going to appreciate shit if I just handed it off to them. So they were rushing to McDonald’s to look at what’s on the dollar menu, or going to get a River Boat special from Louisiana Fried Chicken. But I was showing them family life because my family lives in this house, too.
Billboard: Top, why did you turn to music?
Tiffith: My uncle, [gang leader-turned-community activist] Mike Concepcion, did music. I watched him. He had a bunch of producers, and then he wound up working with artists like Rome and Sylk-E. Fyne.
Billboard: Kendrick, what was your goal recording the early mixtapes and The Kendrick Lamar EP?
Lamar: That shit was like boot camp. Getting in there and learning how to rap, put words together, freestyles and bars and shit. As time progresses, you develop. I remember coming to Top like, “Hey, I want to change to my real name [from K.Dot].”
Billboard: Top, who did you look to as an example once you found success?
Tiffith: I learned from my uncle. When I got in the streets, he was always like, “Be low-key. Don’t be no loud n—a.” And just watching, like, JAY-Z and Puff. I don’t dance. I can’t jump in no video.
Billboard: People have compared you to Suge Knight.
Tiffith: Have you seen any of his qualities in me? You’re not seeing me go crazy, beating on anybody, arrested every week. If they were talking about success, I would’ve been cool with that because he had great success. But they judge us brothers like that. They put us all in the same box.
Billboard: What was your first concert?
Lamar: When I went on tour with The Game [and Jay Rock, in 2006] — that was my first show.
Billboard: Growing up, you never saw a show?
Lamar: Mmhmm. That shit cost money. Gas money. Me being onstage is me fulfilling two different things — performing and getting to enjoy it like the people enjoying it.
Billboard: How would you two define your relationship?
Tiffith: I trust his judgment, he trusts mine. Some shit I’m tripping on, he might call me and change my whole mind about it.
Lamar: You don’t get too many people like him this side of the neighborhood. A lot of motherfuckers want you to see them down just like them. Or don’t want you to come up like them. If it weren’t for him, I’d probably be sitting around with this motherfucking money and face and platform and not doing shit because I didn’t have the proper guidance to know exactly what to do and how to inspire the next kid.