During an interview in Puerto Rico, Kendrick Lamar tells us why he respects Drizzy and Nicki Minaj
This weekend we headed out to the coast of Puerto Rico for the Bacardi Triangle, a three day event held an hour away from San Juan. On Saturday, Kendrick Lamar played a show on the idyllic, uninhabited Palomino Island, a tiny speck in the Carribean Sea a 15-minute ferry ride away from shore. A couple of hours before his stunning performance we caught up with him in his hotel room where he explained the inspiration behind "i", revealed that a 73-year old has blown him away and squashed rumours of any beefin' with Drake.
KENDRICK ON DRAKE AND NICKI MINAJ
Speculation has abounded for a long time that Kendrick Lamar and Drake don't enjoy the best of relationships. Last summer, Kendrick appeared on Big Sean's "Control" and called out a lot of the rap game including Drake and also continued the hostility at the BET Hip Hop Awards. Since then, rumours have persisted that there's no love lost between the rappers and even last week listeners wondered if Kendrick's verse on Jay Rock's "Pay For It" was aimed at Drizzy. However, Mr Lamar had nothing but good things to say in Puerto Rico, also expressing a love for Nicki Minaj who was famously disappointed to be omitted from Kendrick's far-reaching call out on "Control".
"I got no beef with Drake," he told us. "I definitely respect him as an artist because he makes great music – he's one of the artists that I respect because he has that ability to put his words and songs together and there's that connection. I respect Nicki Minaj too. I think what people forget is to get to the place that they're at and the level that these different artists are at, it's no coincidence that they're there. They had to work very hard to get there, I know because I had to work very hard, so I don't knock or discredit anyone's talents or skills at all. You don't get there by luck and it takes a lot of hard work in order for you to stay there."
ON THE INSPIRATION BEHIND "i"
When Kendrick released "i" back in September, his first single in two years, a lot of people were taken aback by the new direction. Gone was the melancholy and ghostly beats, in its place a sample of "That Lady" by The Isley Brothers. Kendrick explained the inspiration behind the track.
"The inspiration for that record came from being around people that have so many worries and so many insecurities that they want to kill themselves," he said. "It comes from going back to see my homies in my neighbourhood who feel like they aren't worth shit, then getting on a tour bus, getting on stage and meeting a fan who has so many cuts on their arm, who feel like they ain't worth nothing and the only thing that saves them is my music.
When you have these worlds I can't help but grab some type of inspiration from that. I wanted to take my own insecurities and my own reflections on who I am, broadcast that on a record and say 'This is who I am, I'm gonna love myself regardless and live with minimum regrets'. Me doing that can only help a college kid or the guy in my neighbourhood. That's the inspiration behind 'i'".
WHY RONALD ISLEY IS ONE OF HIS FAVOURITE COLLABORATORS
Kendrick is a prolific collaborator and sometimes it seems as though a week doesn't pass by without him turning up on someone's track. Given his willingness to partner up, he has a long list to choose from, but when asked who has blown him away the most Kendrick didn't say Big Sean, Flying Lotus or The Game, but 73-year old Ronald Isley, who worked closely with Kendrick on "i".
"He's about seventy years old and he still sounds the exact same way to this day as I heard him when I was kid," he said. "That blew my mind, because age really doesn't reflect your personal skill in your craft if you're on top of it. This is a person that always kept his vocals warm. I was having conversations with him all the time, he's kept his appearance sharp and his voice sharp. I'm a fairly new artist so seeing someone with longevity still doing it the way he does it, in person, on camera for the world to see, was amazing."
ON WHAT TO EXPECT FROM HIS NEW ALBUM
He was secretive to the point of defiance. "I'm terrible at explaining my creativity, what I'm talking about or how it comes off looking better when it's on record, on a beat, in a formation," he said. "I can you tell this – it's still personal and it always will be."