It’s really cool how things work the way they do….having missed his flight from Denver, Kendrick Lamar found the time to talk to Erykah Badu — who was at home in Dallas — about a few things that ended up in the recent issue of Interview Magazine. Among the topics discussed were growing up in Compton, his top ten (eleven, really) emcees, seeing Dr. Dre (who was with 2Pac) more than a decade before actually meeting him and much more.
You can check out an excerpt below and the full feature over at Interview:
BADU: The first time I saw you was on BET’s Cypher. I didn’t know who you were at that time, but you stood out. What do you think your secret weapon is as a lyricist? What do you think that “thing” is that makes you stand out?
LAMAR: Oh, man . . . That’s a good question. You know, I studied people I looked up to: Jay-Z, Nas, B.I.G., Pac . . . But early on, I didn’t really have my own sound. I had a passion for it, but me actually rapping the way they rapped is what got me into doing my own thing. I think me being that intricate and studying songs line for line—I probably spent more time listening to albums than writing songs. But I think that gave me all the tricks in terms of wordplay, from how I pronounced my words to the actual delivery. I’m very intricate about that stuff when I go into the studio—it has to sound the way I heard it in my head. So that’s probably one of the biggest things that separates me when I’m working in the studio—just how I hear certain things.
BADU: Is there an MC who influenced you or whose level of excellence you feel that you will never reach? LAMAR: [laughs] That I feel I’ll never reach? I’ll have to say Jay or Eminem. Jay for sure—just off the simple fact of his longevity. That, to me, is probably one-in-a-million for rappers. A good career for a rapper is five or six years, so I think Jay still being relevant and having the skills he has—it’s really unmatched. I hope I get to that level and keep my work ethic up and strategically think of certain things. But there will probably only ever be one Jay. He’ll probably go down as the greatest to ever do it. Pac also could’ve had that, but due to his passing, we’ll never know if he’d have reached that.