GQ Style unveils a new interview with Rick Rubin interviewing none other than Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick covers the Holiday 2016 issue of the mag wearing a full fur coat talking to Rick about his next album and much more. The interview even inspired them to head straight into the studio to work on new music. You can take a look at some of their conversation below and read the full story over at GQ.
Rick Rubin: When making music, do you ever consider the audience at all, or is it more just self-expression?
Kendrick Lamar: I used to consider the listener. But now I’m in a space where if I’m not inspired, I can’t really do the music. I can’t feel it. I put in enough hours to be able to pen a hundred-bar verse on the spot at any given moment. But for me to actually feel an idea, it has to come from me. And a lot of times, I have to block out different needs and wants just for my own selfish reasons. But at the end of the day, it comes out where, whether you like it or not, you know it comes from a real place. It’s gonna feel unapologetic, uncompromising, and it’s gonna feel me.
Rick Rubin:: Do you ever look back on anything and feel like you’d like to change any of the things that you’ve written?
Kendrick Lamar: It would be me saying, I want to go deeper. I shoulda went deeper.
Rick Rubin: Let’s talk about “Alright” for a second. It has become our generation’s protest song.
Kendrick Lamar: Yeah, yeah.
Rick Rubin: When you wrote it, did you have that in mind? Did you think of it as a protest song?
Kendrick Lamar: No. You know what? I was sitting on that record for about six months. The beat’s Pharrell. And between my guy Sam Taylor and Pharrell, they would always be like, Did you do it? When you gonna do it? I knew it was a great record—I just was trying to find the space to approach it. I mean, the beat sounds fun, but there’s something else inside of them chords that Pharrell put down that feels like—it can be more of a statement rather than a tune. So with Pharrell and Sam asking me—Am I gonna rock on it? When I’m gonna rock on it?—it put the pressure on me to challenge myself. To actually think and focus on something that could be a staple in hip-hop. And eventually, I came across it. Eventually, I found the right words. You know, it was a lot going on, and still, to this day, it’s a lot going on. And I wanted to approach it as more uplifting—but aggressive. Not playing the victim, but still having that We strong, you know?
Rick Rubin: It’s really interesting now, with what’s going on in hip-hop. It’s almost like you’re a throwback to when lyrics mattered. So much of hip-hop today is about vibe and swag and personality, and less about words. And it sometimes sounds like even the MC doesn’t know what he’s saying on a lot of today’s records. So it’s interesting to hear the sort of clarity and depth that you go into lyrically.
Kendrick Lamar: The clarity, I got my clarity just studying Eminem when I was a kid. How I got in the studio was all just curiosity. I had a love for the music, but it was curiosity. The day I heard The Marshall Mathers LP, I was just like, How does that work? What is he doing? How is he putting his words together like that? What’s the track under that? An ad-lib? What is that? And then, Why don’t you go in the studio and see? So I do that. Then it became, How’s his words cutting through the beat like that? What is he doing that I’m not doing, now that I’m into it? His time is impeccable. When he wants to fall off the beat, it’s impeccable. These are things that, through experience and time, I had to learn.
Rick Rubin: Do you have any idea of the direction that’s coming next, as far as writing goes, or is it too soon?
Kendrick Lamar: It’s soon. I have ideas, though. I have ideas and I have a certain approach. But I wanna see what it manifests. I wanna put all the paint on the wall and see where that goes. Maybe you can help me with that.
Rick Rubin: I’m down. Cool. For Butterfly, did you record more songs than the ones on the album?
Kendrick Lamar: Yeah, definitely. I have so many floating around—24 bars, 16 bars, hooks and choruses and bridges and ideas. References that I had in mind for people to sing.
Rick Rubin: Beautiful…. Anything else you want to talk about?
Kendrick Lamar: Let’s check out this space, man! I’m in a creative zone! [laughs]
Rick Rubin: Should we go inside and record?
Kendrick Lamar: Exactly.