Last Friday (Dec. 16), Kendrick Lamar performed at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg for a secret pop-up show in conjunction with American Express. Among some of the surprises were that he brought a few fans onstage to rap with him, as well as an up-and-coming rapper from the Bronx named Kemba.

XXL hung out with Lamar backstage before the show and asked him about President Barack Obama’s eight-year term in office. They got Lamar's thoughts on what the president has done for hip-hop.

“I think the world, not just hip-hop owes him,” Kendrick said. “We all have to give him his credit due for even allowing us into the building. We would probably never get inside that house ever again. Think about it like that. Rick Ross, Cole, Nicki Minaj, he really went for us to come experience it. This is something our grandparents always wanted to see, never thought in a million years, but [we can] pass it down to our generation to say, ‘Alright, I’m in here and I’m finna use my power to let y'all see how this thing works and I’mma drop some knowledge on y’all that a man can’t drop on everybody else ’cause y’all have the most influence.’”

Kendrick is referring to the fact that Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative invited some prominent hip-hop figures to discuss criminal justice reform at the White House this past April. In addition to Ross, Cole, and Minaj, other stars like Wale, Pusha T, DJ Khaled, Timbaland, Chance the Rapper, Common, Ludacris, and Busta Rhymes came through to show solidarity with Obama’s message.

K. Dot also spoke about first meeting with Obama in January, when POTUS sat down with him to talk about the need for role models in urban communities.

 “You look at him as such a high figure in the world, but for him to embrace you and have a connection with you further than just being the President and make you feel like an actual friend,” he says. “That’s probably the best moment and one of his best characteristics. I meet a lot of people in high places and sometimes they get so detached from the world and from the people, they don’t even know how to interact with you. Basically watching him interact with my mother, my little niece, myself as a human, I think that’s the greatest thing.”