Listen to the Full 2Pac Interview Kendrick Lamar Samples on ‘Mortal Man’
Kendrick Lamar's second major label album, To Pimp a Butterfly, is still scheduled to come out next week, on March 23. However, last night (March 15), the album was briefly available for purchase and download via the iTunes store, meaning a huge faction of hip-hop fans are dissecting the 80-minute opus well before its street date. One of the more confounding parts of the record is the very end: "Mortal Man," Kendrick's 12-minute closing number, ends with what sounds like the Compton rapper interviewing the late Tupac Amaru Shakur. Of course, this never happened--Shakur died in September of 1996, well before Lamar rose to prominence in the late 2000s and early 2010s. But the audio sent people scrambling, and Miss Info, as always, was the plug, pointing out that the interview is a rare one Tupac conducted with a Swedish radio station in 1994, less than two weeks before Pac was shot at Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan.
To Pimp a Butterfly is the sprawling follow-up to good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Kendrick's critically adored 2012 debut. Unlike that record, Butterfly takes little from contemporary rap, opting for a loose, jazz-infused production style. Read the transcript of the "Mortal Man" below (via MTV).
Kendrick Lamar: Now that I finally got a chance to holla at you, I always wanted to ask you about a certain situa– about a metaphor actually, you spoke on: The ground. What you mean by that? What the ground represent?
2Pac: The ground is gonna open up and swallow the evil.
Kendrick Lamar: Right
2Pac: That’s how I see it, my word is bond. I see and the ground is the symbol for the poor people; the poor people is gonna open up this whole world and swallow up the rich people, ’cause the rich people gonna be so fat, they gonna be so appetizing, you know what I’m saying, wealthy, appetizing. The poor gonna be so poor and hungry, you know what I’m saying? (laughs) It’s gonna be like — there might be some cannibalism out this mother. They might eat the rich.
Kendrick Lamar: Aight, so let me ask you this then: Do you see yourself as somebody that’s rich or somebody that made the best of they own opportunities?
2Pac: I see myself as a natural born hustler, a true hustler, in every sense of the word. I took nothin’, I took the opportunities, I worked at the most menial and degrading job and built myself up so I could get it to where I owned it. I went from having somebody manage me to me hiring the person that works my management company. I changed everything. I realized my destiny in a matter of five years, you know what I’m saying. I made myself a millionaire. I made millions for a lot of people, now it’s time to make millions for myself, you know what I’m saying. I made millions for the record companies, I made millions for these movie companies, now I’m gonna millions for us.
2Pac: By my faith in God, by my faith in the game, and by my faith in all good things come to those that stay true, you know what I’m saying. And it was happening to me for a reason, you know what I’m saying. I was noticing, sh-t, I was punching the right buttons, and it was happening. So, it’s no problem, you know, I mean it’s a problem, but I’m not finna let them know. I’m finna go straight through.
Kendrick Lamar: Would you consider yourself a fighter at heart or somebody that, somebody that only reacts when they back is against the wall?
2Pac: Sh-t, I like to think that in every opportunity I’ve ever been threatened with resistance, it’s been met with resistance. And not only me, but it goes down my family tree, you know what I’m saying. It’s in my veins to fight back.
Kendrick Lamar: Aight well, how long you think it take before n—as be like, we fighting a war, I’m fighting a war I can’t win, and I wanna lay it all down?
2Pac: In this country, a black man only have like five years we can exhibit maximum strength, and that’s right now while you a teenager, while you still strong, while you still wanna lift weights, while you still wanna shoot back. ‘Cause once you turn 30, it’s like they take the heart and soul out of a man, out of a black man, in this country. And you don’t wanna fight no more. And if you don’t believe me you can look around, you don’t see no loud mouth 30-year-old motherf–kers.
2Pac: I think that n—as is tired of grabbing sh-t out the stores, and next time it’s a riot, it’s gonna be bloodshed. For real. I don’t think America can know that. I think America think we was just playing, it’s gonna be some more playing. But it ain’t gonna be no playing. It’s gonna be murder, you know what I’m saying. It’s gonna be like Nat Turner, 1831, up in this motherf–ker, you know what I’m saying. It’s gonna happen.
Kendrick Lamar: That’s crazy, man. In my opinion, only hope that we kinda have left is music and vibrations. A lotta people don’t understand how important it is. Sometimes, I can, like, get behind a mic, and I don’t know what type of energy I’mma push out, or where it comes from. Trip me out sometimes.
2Pac: Because it’s spirits. We ain’t really rappin’; we just letting our dead homies tell stories for us.
Kendrick Lamar: Damn.
I wanted to read one last thing to you. It’s actually something a good friend had wrote, describing my world. It says:
The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it
Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it, in order to protect itself from this mad city
While consuming its environment the caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive
One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him, but praises the butterfly
The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness, and the beauty within the caterpillar
But having a harsh outlook on life the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak and figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits
Already surrounded by this mad city the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him
He can no longer see past his own thoughts
While trapped inside these walls certain ideas start to take roots, such as going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city
The result? Wings begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations that the caterpillar never considered, ending the internal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different, they are one and the same.
What’s your perspective on that?
Listen to the 2Pac interview that the audio comes from below. Keep checking XXL for updates on the commercial release of To Pimp a Butterfly.