Starring (in order of appearance):
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (Performer)
Punch (President of Top Dawg Entertainment)
Derek Ali a.k.a. MixedByAli (Engineer & Mixing)
Dow Jones of Tha Bizness (Producer)
Henny a.k.a. J-Hen of Tha Bizness (Producer)
Chauncey Hollis a.k.a. Hit-Boy (Producer)
Johnny Reed McKinzie a.k.a. Jay Rock (Performer)
Elijah Blue Molina a.k.a. Scoop DeVille (Producer)
Pharrell Williams a.k.a. Pharrell (Producer)
Aaron Tyler a.k.a. MC Eiht (Performer)
Terrace Martin (Producer)
Tyler Williams a.k.a. T-Minus (Producer)
Like of Pac Div (Producer)
Skhye Hutch (Producer)
Justin Smith a.k.a. Just Blaze (Producer)
Kendrick Lamar: “This is a dark movie album. I wanted to tap into that space where I was at in my teenage years. Everybody knows Kendrick Lamar, but he had to come from a certain place, a certain time, and certain experiences.
“I’ve been planning this for years. Everything was premeditated. I already knew what I wanted to talk about, what I wanted to convey. I had that album cover for years. I knew I was going to use it and that it was the best description of what I was talking about in the album. It’s a long time coming. Everything we dwelled on is coming to light.
“To have an album that I have total creative control over is one of the best feelings in the world. I probably wouldn’t have been able to make a dark album if I didn’t have creative control. That’s why once [some people] get into a situation, they change their style. But I have creative control."
MixedByAli: “The album takes place in ‘04, so these skits are reminders of what’s going on in the story. It’s as if you were to go back in time and put a microphone in the middle of Kendrick and his people before they were going to do the house lick or going visit his people or meeting up with girls.”
To have an album that I have total creative control over is one of the best feelings in the world. I probably wouldn’t have been able to make a dark album if I didn’t have creative control. That’s why once [some people] get into a situation, they change their style. But I have creative control. —Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar: “The skits bring the storyline together. Those skits are actually my real mother and father. Those are people that I was raised by, so I decided to put them in the skits as themselves. And those are my real homeboys being themselves. It ties the storyline in perfect. My parents love the album. They love that I got the chance to tell that story I wanted to tell in a positive light.”
“There are twists and paybacks. The story is about one day in the life of me and my homeboys. I really didn’t want to make it song-by-song. Each piece, I want to trigger certain points where you make a connection. Almost like a Pulp Fiction feel—you have to listen to it more times to live with it and breathe with it.”
Punch: “I’m the President of Top Dawg Entertainment. Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith—the founder and CEO of TDE—that’s my blood relative, my cousin. I’ve worked there since about 2004. I fill in the gaps. I write [raps] too, I was on some of the earlier records, so I understand the art. I’m the medium for the art and the business of the company.
“This project was in the works Kendrick's whole life. This is his life story. He had the concept before all of his mixtapes. This is the prequel to everything. He had the title for this album even before Kendrick Lamar EP had dropped. He was writing the concept the whole time.
“He actually wrote a project called good kid, m.A.A.d. city before the EP came out. The plan was for the eight-song EP to drop as a warm-up for the good kid, m.A.A.d. city he did already. In the process he had more songs and the buzz started growing, so we dropped the EP.
“Overly Dedicated was supposed to be remixes but it turned into a whole project. Songs like ‘Average Joe’ off OD was one of the original concepts for good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Even ‘Keisha Song’ was initially for good kid, m.A.A.d. city, but it was from a different point of view.
“The album really came together on the road because he has been on touring strong for about two years straight. So he’ll be on an airplane writing a song, get back home and lay the record, then have to fly out to do something else. It’s just a testament to how focused and how strong minded he is. I don’t know if a lot of artists could record that album while touring.
Those skits are actually my real mother and father. Those are people that I was raised by, so I decided to put them in the skits as themselves. And those are my real homeboys being themselves. It ties the storyline in perfect. —Kendrick Lamar
“That picture for the album cover, he found that two years ago and said, 'This is what I’m going to use for my album cover.' I really plotted out everything. We had a vision for everything and followed that vision, it’s not just random songs. This is a real story, a real life. This album is giving you insight to who he was before Section.80, before OD, before EP. We had it all mapped out.”
MixedByAli: “Dave Free, from TDE worked at the high school I was attending, Colonial High School. He was always around passing out Jay Rock CDs. At that time I was working with Tyga because we grew up together. Me and Dave connected early and we talked about Jay Rock and TDE. I was interested in what they had going on so he told me to come by the studio one time and I never left. It’s been a family bond since then, like a foster child came and never left.
“I started doing ringtones in high school. I had this program to record ringtones and put them on people’s phones. People wanted to put they own voice on the ringtones so I started recording their voice to put on their phone. Next thing you know I’m recording full songs after school. I love it. I can take somebody's voice, do whatever I want with it, change it up, compress it, add different effects to it do whatever I want to make it sound good. I studied [engineering], I studied Pro Tools, Logic, went hands-on and tried to be the best with that.
“I think I was 17 when I first met Kendrick. I was with Punch, he did all the recording at TDE. Punch called me and said, ‘I can’t come in, but K-Dot needs to record. Can you go?’ I was nervous as hell because I was fresh. I didn’t know nothing about nothing. But I was like, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ I remember fucking up the whole time and Kendrick was so mad that he cut the session. But it was a good experience. I learned what not to do in a session, which is to be slow and fuck shit up.”