Kendrick Lamar: The "Mantras" Interview

Kendrick Lamar: The "Mantras" InterviewAs Told To Insanul Ahmed; Photography by Bek Andersen

With his debut album looming, the artist formerly known as K. Dot shares his tips for getting respect from OGs and creating masterpieces.

This feature appears in Complex's February/March 2012 Issue.

GET A GOOD TEAM.
To be successful in the game, you gotta have the mind-set that you can’t do it alone. You can’t go anywhere without a team. Top Dawg Entertainment allows me to be in a creative space. When you’re focusing on business and music, you’re gonna give less attention to one or the other. You have to be 100% focused on the music.

 

When I was born, I came home from the hospital in an ’87 Buick Regal while my pops was bumping Big Daddy Kane.

 

EARN RESPECT.
You’re gonna get respect from veterans when you’re respected. I was mad at artists in L.A. because they were mad at the O.G.’s for not screaming their names. When they were so concerned with that, they weren’t making the best music. You know what I was doing? I was in the lab creating motherfucking masterpieces.

KEEP YOUR CIRCLE SMALL.
I don’t roll with a lot of people. This industry has a lot of motherfuckers who try to put a sore thumb in your congregation. You can’t trust half of the cats you’re rolling with. I watch artists roll with 15 cats for no reason. You’re just wasting money and causing problems. People I roll with, they been here since day one.

STUDY YOUR HISTORY.
My pops put me on to rap. When I was born, I came home from the hospital in an ’87 Buick Regal while my pops was bumping Big Daddy Kane. He would say, “This is Rakim. You get your whole style from Rakim!” Or, “Go listen to Biz Markie!” Sometimes I sit back and listen to hip-hop with him to see where my hip-hop roots come from.

Tags: kendrick-lamar, mantras
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