Interview: Kendrick Lamar Talks "Section.80," Major Labels, & Working With Dr. Dre

Interview: Kendrick Lamar Talks "Section.80," Major Labels, & Working With Dr. Dre

I mean, ten years...
[Laughs.] Right, when I say that it’s really unmatched, everything has to be right. He is real critical and he has a passion for the music so heavy where he can’t go out unless he feels it’s right, so I feel him.

Did you put in any work on Detox?
I did a lot of verses. To be in there and see the quality of music it is, the shit that he just has in the cut, waiting. It’s unmatched.

You seem to know, is Detox coming out this year or what?
I can’t give no date. I’m not even about to throw a date in the air. When it comes, he’ll have the whole industry shut down.

I was so convinced it was coming when the video came out...
The video definitely tells you it’s about to come out. He ain’t put out no video [before]. The leaks and that shit don’t count. When you put out an actual video and spend money, it’s coming.

You’ve said before that Section.80 wasn’t the right time for people to first hear you over a Dre beat. When do you think you will start releasing music that you have worked on with him?
I wanted to save that. I wanted to give a beat by Dre its own light. I didn’t want to put it on Section.80. I want Section.80 to have its own light, its own entity. I didn’t want people to want to purchase the project because I had two or three crazy ass Dre beats. I think I made the right choice because once they hear the shit that I’ve done with him, they’re going to appreciate it a lot more.

Did Dre have any contribution toward how you put together Section.80?
Nah. Y’all heard the album just the way I played it [for Dre]. I wanted to get his perspective on it and see what he thought about it. He loved it. He said it was different. Different as in different-good. Everything that’s different is not good. [Laughs.] He loved it. That studio footage of me and him in there, that’s when I was playing the joints.

Another video that was released with studio footage is of you working on “Ronald Reagan Era” with the RZA vocal. How did that come about?
My man DJ Friction overseas, he worked with RZA. RZA liked my music, he liked the rawness and the feel of it. I been talking back with my dude DJ Friction and he said RZA was sitting on some vocals over there and that I could flip them motherfuckers. I’m like, “You’re telling me I could take some RZA vocals and I could flip ‘em?” [Laughs.]

 
I’m not going to go out here and complain like every West Coast artist and say, “Why are the OGs not helping me?” I’m going to go out here and do it myself and get the attention just off the music itself.
 

He gave me authorization for that and I’m finna run with it. I been sitting on this shit for a long time. I was just waiting on the right time to find the right record to put it over. And I didn’t want nothing too plain, I just wanted something real subtle. And that’s how I used it. It came out dope and I got his blessing. So it was ill. And my dude Dave Free told me that [RZA] loved the record.

What’s up with your mixtape with J. Cole?
We definitely gotta finish that up. I know the people have been really in demand for it. But at the same time, I have to get on the road and work Section.80 because it’s going to please the people more to see those songs come to life.

It’s one of the biggest things that I’ve learned in the past year; recording a song and putting it on CDQ is dope. But when you’re actually out there touching the crowd and performing it, it’s a whole other energy. It takes your artistry on a whole other level as far as having a supportive base. I just gotta find a balance as far as going on the road and recording.

So have you guys been getting in the studio together and working on that?
As of late, no because we’ve been so busy. He’s on a tour right now and I’ve got Section.80. [We got in the studio] like at least ten months ago. So we’ve got a few of the songs in the stash. Once we really lock in, I know it’s not going to be hard to bang out [the records].

I saw [Ab-Soul’s] tweet a couple weeks ago that you were in contact with Nas. How did that happen?
My management got in touch with a friend of his that liked the music from the jump. I don’t think Nas was familiar with the music yet until he introduced “HiiiPoWeR” to him. I think he heard “HiiiPoWeR,” liked it, and said it was a crazy record. That’s been in the air since, I don’t know what’s going to happen after that.

Did you guys meet or talk on the phone?
No, straight through friends.

I saw on 2dopeboyz, on the post about you and Pharrell, Meka said that you and Drake had linked up in Toronto.
That’s a good rumor. I would like that to happen.

On songs like “Celebration” and “Determined,” you rhymed about the idea of getting a co-sign—specifically from Snoop, Ice Cube, Quik, and Dre. Now, it’s almost two years after the release of that project, you’ve actually gotten praises from Snoop, Quik, and Dre. How does it feel?
It’s a beautiful thing to get the stamp from the pioneers. It’s an even more beautiful thing to know that they heard the actual line from the EP and gave me credit for saying that I’m going to push myself.

I’m not going to go out here and complain like every West Coast artist and say, “Why are the OGs not helping me?” I’m going to go out here and do it myself and get the attention just off the music itself. That’s the drive they’ve seen in me from the jump.

When I go back and somebody plays that for them, they think it’s incredible that I think like that because you don’t see young cats today trying to do the legwork. Everybody’s looking for a handout. I wasn’t looking for no handout.

When the West Coast [artists] were in that space where they felt like they were mad at all the older cats for not helping them, I thought that was the stupidest shit in the world. I hated that. Like, what are you talking about? Go out here and do some fucking good music and shut up. That’s the mentality I have.

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