There’s really nothing that makes Kendrick Lamar a conventional rap star. He’s not the partying type, his antics don’t speak louder than his music, he’s not super active on social media (his Instagram account only has two posts thus far), and he doesn’t boast about his bank account or his personal life. Yet at 27, the Compton-born wordsmith is by and far one of the most influential acts that hip hop has seen in the last several years, but he’s not working for recognition, he’s working for a higher power.
In an interview with the New York Times, Lamar speaks about his spiritual transformation and new album, To Pimp a Butterfly. In 2013, the MC revealed that he got baptized, an experience that strengthened his religious roots, and will in turn help his fans, as he now understands his calling. “I’m the closest thing to a preacher that they have,” said Lamar. “I know that from being on tour — kids are living by my music. My word will never be as strong as God’s word. All I am is just a vessel, doing his work.”
On To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar has his mind set on a bigger mission, one that deals less with sales figures. Conceptually, he’s speaking from personal experience but also for those “really living” a street lifestyle and uninterested in lyrical glorifications of bad behavior. “They want to get away from that,” he explained. “If it comes across as just a game all the time, the kids are going to think it’s just a game.”
Of the album, which was slated for release next Monday (March 23) but prematurely landed on iTunes a week early, Lamar continues in a space of authenticity. According to his own description, the record is both “full of strength, courage and honesty” as well as “growth and acknowledgment and denial.”
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