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Kendrick Lamar Talks Kanye, Colin Kaepernick, Pulitzer Prize, and More in New Interview

Kendrick Lamar is the subject of a new cover story by Lisa Robinson in Vanity Fair. In the story, Robinson follows the rapper on a visit to New York, preparing for his TDE Championship tour shows at Madison Square Garden and Jones Beach and accepting his Pulitzer Prize at Columbia University. In the piece, Lamar discusses his Compton upbringing, and preteen days spent rapping and reading the dictionary. He discusses the strong influence of Enimem and The Marshall Mathers LP on his lyrical verbosity and approach to storytelling. When asked about his Pulitzer prize win, Kendrick reflected:

It was one of those things I heard about in school but I never thought I’d be a part of it…It’s one of those things that should have happened with hip-hop a long time ago. It took a long time for people to embrace us—people outside of our community, our culture—to see this not just as vocal lyrics, but to see that this is really pain, this is really hurt, this is really true stories of our lives on wax. And now, for it to get the recognition that it deserves as a true art form, that’s not only great for myself, but it makes me feel good about hip-hop in general. Writers like Tupac, Jay Z, Rakim, Eminem, Q-Tip, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop . . . It lets me know that people are actually listening further than I expected. When I looked up at that man on the podium today, I just had countless pictures in my mind of my mother putting me in suits to go to school. Suit and tie, from the dollar store, from thrift shops, when I was a kid.

Robinson asked the rapper about a recent incident at a show in Alabama, where a white fan rapped along with the n-word when brought on stage during a performance of “M.A.A.D. City,” and about Lamar’s attitude toward using the word in his writing in general. Lamar countered: “Let me put it to you in its simplest form. I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do. Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city. So many things—’you can’t do that’—whether it’s from afar or close up. So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.”

Robinson also asked for Lamar’s opinion on Kanye West’s espoused sympathies for Donald Trump. “He has his own perspective, and he’s on this whole agree to disagree thing, and I would have this conversation with him personally if I want to,” Lamar said. He also reiterated his strong admiration for Colin Kaepernick, saying he’d lost interest in the NFL: “I’m less enthused. It’s enraging; I think what Kap [Colin Kaepernick] is doing is honest, and it’s not just his truth, it’s our truth.”

Read the full piece here.

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