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News: Kendrick Lamar Covers Variety’s Hitmakers Issue

Kendrick Lamar covers Variety’s new Hitmakers issue sitting down for an interview with Andrew Barker. Kendrick talks about the rise of his career, artistic growth and his creative process behind his latest album. You can see some of what he had to say below and read the full story over at Variety.

On His Music:

“For me, prior to me recording, it’s 70% me just formulating ideas in my mind and 30% just collecting sounds and making sounds, prior to me actually getting in the studio,” he says. “Then it’s about figuring out which angle I’m going to attack it from and how the listener is going to perceive it. These are the ideas you’re constantly, constantly thinking about, and it’s not really about going to instrumentals and bringing on beats [from producers], because I feel my greatest knack is for taking cohesive ideas and putting them on wax. So it starts with me first, with my thoughts.”

“I probably wouldn’t be doing music if I couldn’t find things to challenge me,” he says. “So I have to find an off-beat pocket and learn how to rap off beat in a way so that when you play it back, it sounds on beat. I like little beats where the snare is a second to the left or a second to the right, like Mike Will does.”

On His Influences:

“I just come from that era,” Lamar says, citing landmark 1990s LPs like DMX’s “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot,” Tupac’s “Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory” and the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Life After Death” as touchstones. “I don’t look at these albums like just music; it sounds like an actual film. To me, you need a big, grand production when you listen to these songs. You don’t necessarily just hear the music — you see it. You hear the stories; you hear the interludes; you hear the hooks and how different things intertwine. I always carry some type of conceptual idea inside my music, whether it’s a big concept or it’s so subtle you can’t even tell until you get to 20 listens. It’s such a huge deal to this day, seeing if an artist can still pull it off. Because there’s not too many artists who give you that in a way that feels authentic, where you say, ‘OK, this person really sat down and thought through this idea.’”