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Kendrick Lamar On TDE, His “Control” Verse And Fame From XXL’s Oct/Nov Cover Story

When you say, “I wanna murder you niggas,” what does that look like? “What does ‘murdering’ them look like?” is one of the questions I’m asking, I guess. And not in terms of “Ooh, this is what I want to do to Drake,” but what is that success? Is it making better songs, is it making better albums, having bigger sales, is it having more endorsements, is it all of that, is it some of that? What is the thing that says “I won”?
Simply hip-hop—the art and the culture. Don’t got nothing to do with anything outside of writing lyrics. That’s what I don’t want people to get it confused from. We’re talking about lyrics, we talking about rhyming. And when you say the word “murder,” I’ve been feeling that way since I was 16—I wanted to be the best at it. If I was mopping floors, I want to be the best at it. If I’m cleaning pools, I want to do the best at it. Fortunately, I’m doing rap music and I want to be the best at it. Period.

“My mindset right now, is really on some, this shit don’t last forever. Something could happen tomorrow, and if you ain’t putting your best foot forward today, then what are you doing it for?”

Once again, it goes back to this thing: How do we decide that? When you said that list, when you say you want to be the best at it—right off the top, there are two names on that list that aren’t even… Like, lyrically? Come on. There are a couple of dudes on that list, that if we’re going bar-for-bar, we have arguments here. But some of those dudes, it’s like, “That’s not even an argument.”
That’s the thing. I could have said a whole bunch of people that I like; I can’t say 20 or 30 people in one song. So I’m gonna give you a variety of people of whoever that you like, or whatever these people like, whatever the case, and that’s what came up off the top. And I just feel like that was a variation of what’s going on today, what’s going on in music, and just what’s going on in hip-hop culture. It just came out that way.

Who are the ones on that list, in terms of lyrics, who you feel is your real competition? That you listen to and you’re like “Okay, where’s the studio?” Like, when Fabolous tweeted, “Are there any studios open?” [in response to the verse]. Who does that for you?
Them individuals on that list, man—they do their thing. I can’t point out the ones in particular. But, as a whole, I feel like they’re gonna get it when they got in there [into the recording booth] and hopefully it’s like that forever. The way I think right now, my mindset right now, bro, is really on some, this shit don’t last forever. Something could happen tomorrow, and if you ain’t putting your best foot forward today, then what are you doing it for? I’m thinking that way.

What’s in the future for you? What does your next six months look like in terms of what you can say you’re formulating now? Where are you resting your head—movies, TV, another album, more guest appearances? Are people still calling you for guest appearances? I would think that people would be like, “Let’s not fuck with him right now.”
Nah, people still show love, man. I appreciate everybody that respect my talents and feel like I take a song to the next level or I can just bring an idea, that’s what it’s about. But, for the next six months, I think the Kanye [Yeezus tour] will be the last run, that tour. I ain’t focusing on no movies. [Laughs] Not yet. I want to focus on the music, stay on the music. I’m just gonna lock back in. Lock back in and get these thoughts off.

I read somewhere that you were working on turning good kid into a screenplay?
Yeah, that’s been going on in my daily writing, as well. The thing about that is, I don’t like to really be conflicted with anything else. If I’m gonna dive into something, I’m gonna go 110 percent. There’s so much other things going on. I don’t really want to half do it. I want to really devote my time to making it the best visual it can possibly be—whether it’s a movie, whether it’s a short film, whether it’s a commercial, who knows. I really just wanna devote my time.

Are you planning to write it, direct it, or just narrate it?
I think all them ideas came up in figuring out how I’m gonna do it. [Giggles] I have so many ideas, man. I think the biggest thing for me is narrowing it down—which angle I’m gonna take to it, as far as the things you just said. So that’s the stage I’m in right now.

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