Kendrick Lamar is on a hot streak. He’s fresh off the release of his acclaimed independent album Section.80, he’s gotten co-signs from legends like Dr. Dre, Nas, and Snoop Dogg, and he recently linked up with Pharrell. To top it off, he’s got a busy schedule ahead. He’s got a mixtape in the works with J. Cole, another project with his Los Angeles-based rap group Black Hippy (composed of himself, Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, and Jay Rock), and let’s not forget all the work he put in on Dr. Dre’s Detox. With Kendrick and members of his label Top Dawg Entertainment visiting New York City, Complex caught up with the artist formerly known as K-Dot and talked about the Odd Future namedrop on Section.80, searching for that hit single, and the time he got high and had a bad trip. Thanks to menamearenick & Tit4Tat.
C: Speaking of cosigns, you recently got one from Pharrell. How did you end up working with him?
KL: He reached out. He called my people and we got in the studio. He showed love on Section.80 and was telling me how much he appreciates the sound we went for and how we weren’t scared to push boundaries. Listening to Section.80, it was a feel that I don’t think a lot of people can jump on as soon as you hear it. It’ll probably take a few times to listen, but when you do you get the whole gist of it. He said that’s a big leap that he can appreciate because that’s the same type of feel he was going for in the early Star Trak days, pushing the limits. We got to work on like four ideas [for songs]. It’s a good start, I will tell you that.
C: You have beats from Dre, beats from Pharrell. These are pricey guys to get. How do you afford beats from them?
KL: That’s off the relationship.
C: Are you getting a discount?
KL: [Laughs.] Hopefully. I make that record and we try to release that motherfucker, then they try to charge me five hundred racks for it. Fuck! Nah, I’m just fuckin’ around. But yeah, hopefully. If they love the record that much and they believe in me, hopefully, because I definitely don’t have that type of money.
C: So you guys have never had that type of discussion?
KL: Nah, that’s what you don’t want to do. That’ll ruin the artist and the producer. I wouldn’t want no producer telling me, “Let me talk to ya folks first about this record.” I don’t even want this shit anymore because I can’t even put my all into it and be creative without thinking about numbers that I don’t have.