22 Things You Didn't Know About Kendrick Lamar

From his childhood nickname to his requests about Polo socks, here are 22 things you didn't know about Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

Image via Getty/Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Kendrick Lamar

Few things are undebatable when it comes to discussing hip-hop, but one of the genre’s absolute certainties is that Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest rappers working today. This still-young millennium has featured plenty of rappers who couldn’t quite meet the commercial and critical hype. But like a teenage LeBron James, Kendrick Lamar is one of the first MCs of his age cohort who actually exceeded the expectations that had been building since his breakthrough, 2010’s Overly Dedicated. His major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city is considered a classic, and his multiple RIAA plaques, Grammy wins, top slots on album of the year lists, and Pulitzer Prize since then demonstrate that he’s yet to fall off.

Kendrick Lamar is perhaps most significant because he’s one of the few rappers who’s consistently shown that commercial success and traditional lyrical ability don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The biggest example of that ability is his most recent album DAMN, which combined stadium-filling mainstream ambition with intense introspection and some evergreen catchphrases (“What happens on Earth stays on Earth!” is tattoo-able). Lamar’s current mainstream dominance has been built upon over a decade of hard work: He’s been releasing mixtapes since he was 16 years old, years before he became the potential top-five-dead-or-alive he is today.

Hip-hop heads are continuing to look forward to how he’ll top DAMN, the first hip-hop album ever to earn a Pulitzer Prize. But even though he’s given so much of himself in the booth, there are still some facts about him that may surprise even the most astute follower. Here are 22 things you didn't know about Kendrick Lamar, including what he considers to be his worst song and that time he was signed to Def Jam.

His family referred to him as “Man Man”

Kendrick Lamar

He always requests Polo socks on his rider.


Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre attended the same high school.

Kendrick Lamar Dr. Dre

He rapped in a cypher with Charles Hamilton.

View this video on YouTube


Lamar was a virtual unknown at Hot 97's Who’s Next showcase at SOB’s in 2009 when he got caught up rapping against Charles Hamilton, who was considered quite the prodigy at the time. Day one Kendrick fans would recognize his verse from C4’s “West Coast Wu Tang” and his Funkmaster Flex “Who Shot Ya?” freestyle. The former and future Interscope signees would see their public standings switch within months: Hamilton’s career spiraled due to undiagnosed bipolar disorder and public controversies (including working with the late J. Dilla in a “strictly paranormal relationship”), while Kendrick Lamar became, well, Kendrick Lamar.

He remembers showing an interest in expanding his vocabulary in the first grade.

Kendrick Lamar

He thinks "B*tch I’m In The Club" is his worst song.

kendrick lamar

He says religion helped him steer away from a destructive path.

kendrick lamar humble video screen

He was originally signed to Def Jam.

kendrick lamar

Kendrick changed his name from “K-Dot” because he felt it was a distraction.

Kendrick Lamar

He was named after The Temptations’ Eddie Kendricks.

Kendrick Lamar performing at the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

He was on the set of Tupac and Dr. Dre’s “California Love.”

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Lamar was only 8 years old when he sat on his father’s shoulders to witness the taping of the iconic video, which was shot at Compton’s Swap Meet. He’s been open about how much of an impact the scene had on his formative years. "Subconsciously, it sparked something," he once said. "I always kept thinking about that moment." Lamar went on to shoot “King Kunta” at the Compton Swap Meet.

Do not offer him Raisin Bran.

Kendrick Lamar

You can catch a young K-Dot in an early Jay Rock video.

Kendrick Jay Rock

Nick Young is his cousin.

Kendrick Lamar performs.

DMX’s 'It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot' inspired Kendrick Lamar to be a rapper.

Kendrick Lamar performs at Coachella.

He made a whole mixtape based off 'Tha Carter III.'

kendrick lamar

He believes 'DAMN' is his best album.

Kendrick Lamar

He describes himself as an introvert.

kendrick lamar love video

He feels like he found his voice once he changed his stage name from K-Dot to Kendrick Lamar.

This is a photo of Kendrick Lamar.

The original title for 'DAMN' was 'What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth.'

This is a photo of Kendrick Lamar.

Taylor Swift helped Kendrick Lamar get his first No. 1.

Kendrick Lamar Taylor Swift

He comes from a large family, and they’re not all from Compton.

kendrick lamar getty 2018

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