Compton is the place where Lamar used to see Suge Knight hanging at the swap meet. It’s also the place where his parents moved after Chicago’s Southside became too dangerous. They did their best to keep him out of trouble—and for the most part succeeded. “I was never lectured about gangs by my parents,” he says. “They’d say something here and there—‘Don’t do that, leave it alone,’—but there was never any finger pointing.”
Despite their efforts to shield their son, the madness found him anyway.
“I was maybe 5 years old. My uncle was selling dope outside my momma’s house, and I was on my bike. One of my uncle’s partners was serving outside the gate, and some dude hopped out while his back was turned, and boom. Seen him drop. You see that stuff on TV as a kid; I saw that in real life: somebody get their brains blown out.”
People think Compton is all about colors. It’s deeper than colors.
But Lamar lived to tell the tale and keep learning his lessons. When he messed up, his parents let him know. Like the time they banished him from the house. “My folks, they werenʼt the type to hug and kiss in front of me,” he says. “They looked more like best friends than husband and wife. Theyʼd walk in this room right now, and my pops would smoke, my mom would be chilling, vibing out, listening to music, listening to us. They werenʼt overprotective. They let me go. When I say go, I mean go. Because they knew that I was gonna do it anyway. Thatʼs something that you canʼt stop, and you gotta understand that as a parent. Your kidʼs gonna do it anyway, whether you like it or not. So whatever it was, they let me do it because they understood that. But one particular time, I tried to come back and they werenʼt fucking with me.”
He won’t detail the indiscretion, but whatever the mistake, it resulted in a locked door that stayed locked for an entire summer.
The months in exile took their toll. “I ended up doing little shit. I might sneak in the backyard and cut the grass. Like, ‘Let me back in this motherfucker. I’m trying.’”
“I wanna raise my kids the same way,” he says now. “I’ll let them go out there, and try to not be overprotective, but I’ll put that plug in their ear that they have to be responsible, because life is real.”