“My social media, most of the time, is completely off,” he said in the feature, which also focuses on his pgLang co-founder and longtime collaborator Dave Free. “Because I know, like ... I can easily smell my own [expletive]. I know. ... Like, I’m not one of those dudes that be like, Oh, yeah, I know how good I am, but I also know the reason why I’m so good is because God’s blessed me with the talent to execute on the talent, and the moment that you start getting lost in your ego, that’s when you start going down.”
Kendrick has often addressed the idea of ego in his music, and more recently it’s something he’s been more careful to control. In an interview for Citizen earlier this year, he said he was “dropping the ego a bit” and he no longer wants to be considered “the greatest.”
“I want to give people something they can hold onto," he told the magazine earlier this year. "So whether it touches 100 million people or inspires one, I want to be that person.”
Elsewhere in his extensive interview with NYT, Kendrick spoke about his ambitious approach to live shows in support of Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. “Hood Beethoven — that was the initial idea,” Kendrick said of the shows, which include the use of a marionette puppet, dancers, and moments that approach performance art. “Now incorporate that with dance and art, and you get this contextualized, theatrical type of performance. That’s what it built into. Then you put it all in the platform, all on the deck. It feels like a theatrical hip-hop show, and not the corny [expletive].”
On the topic of his recent chart-topping album, he called the record his most personal yet. “I’ve never expressed myself the way I expressed myself on this album,” Kendrick said. “From the moment I started picking up a pen and started freestyling. This was the moment that I was trying to get to without even knowing at the time.”
He also spoke about the time he and Dave Free took the reins on editing the video for “HiiiPower” from Section.80, which Free learned to edit for. “We were telling them this needs to be this, and they didn’t want to hear us,” Free explained. “They’re like, ‘No, this is how it needs to be done.’ So it was just me and Kendrick in there being like, ‘No we’re going to do it like this.’” Kendrick added that this spoke volumes about the type of person and friend Dave is.
"To see somebody that much devoted to artists’ crafts, where he’s willing to sit with them and edit the video himself, it lets me know what type of not only businessman, but what type of friendship and what type of dedication he has for something he believes in," he said. "It was my song. Not his song. I go on tour and perform that song and make millions of dollars. So, for him to be willing to sit there and do that, day in day out, that let me know. OK, this is a person you want to be around. He got the best interest to really thug it out with you without even thinking about a check at that point. We just thinking about being creative and the best, and from that day forward, everything flipped.”
Read the full feature here.