TDE's Punch Speaks On Kendrick Lamar's Impending Label Exit

Top Dawg Entertainment president Punch spoke with Mic about Kendrick Lamar's imminent departure from the label, and how he's supportive of the move.

Kendrick Lamar performs during festival appearance.

Kendrick Lamar performs on stage on day 1 of Sziget Festival 2018.

Kendrick Lamar performs during festival appearance.

Kendrick Lamar announced last August that his next studio album will be his last with Top Dawg Entertainment, putting an end to a nearly two-decade-long partnership. His message comes months after Kendrick introduced his new company pgLang, co-founded with former TDE president Dave Free. 

Given Kendrick’s imminent departure from the label, TDE president Punch spoke with Mic, and reflected on their time working together, and explained why Lamar is “ready to build his own thing.” 

“That’s a grown man right now,” Punch said. “We watched him grow from a teenager up into an established grown man, a businessman, and one of the greatest artists of all time. So how long do you actually be signed up under somebody? It’s been almost 20 years.”

He added that it’s time for Kendrick to “move on and try new things and venture out.”Push said he’s “doing a great job developing Baby Keem.”

“It’s always been there, but now it’s just time and space where he can actually do it,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch because that’s something that started with what we built in the beginning. To see it blossom, it’s a full-circle moment.” 

Lamar and Free refused to put pgLang in a box, describing the company in its mission statement as “multi-lingual,” and adding that it’s “not a ‘record label,’ a ‘movie studio,’ or a ‘publishing house.’ This is something new.” In the first few months since its inception, pgLang has lived up to its proclamation with the release of Keem’s​​​ debut album The Melodic Blue, coupled with a Calvin Klein collaboration, and most recently, an upcoming live-action comedy film co-produced by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. 

“It’s different now just because it’s different, not because it’s his last project. It’s just the evolution of where we are,” Punch said about viewing Lamar’s last TDE album differently. “Kendrick doesn’t need anybody in the studio to coach him and help him make an album anymore. He’s well capable of doing everything on his own. It’s just the timeframe that we’re in.” 

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