The interview, published yesterday, sees the rapper reveal that many of the album’s intensely personal lyrics, about family, relationships and himself, were kept secret until release, and how he needed to get to this point in his life to find the confidence to release them.
“It’s stuff that I’ve written that’s just now seeing daylight, because I wasn’t secure with myself in order to do it…. It was really about not being insecure [or] tormented by opinions,” he said. “When I did this, it was kind of the marker and the growth of everything I’ve always wanted to say. I think that was really my purpose of writing my way out of things that I was feeling, from the time I was 9 years old, all the way up to 35.”
This growth was echoed in Kendrick looking back at interviews he’s done in the past. “A lot of times, I’m doing interviews and speaking on the general basis of my childhood, and years later, I see them questions reoccur—maybe on social media, and they pop up and me answering the questions—and I’m like, Damn, the answer was true, but it’s not how I think about it [anymore].”
On the decision not to tell people close to him about the lyrics, Lamar said: “I’m a private person; it was tough for me. The reason why I had to make that decision, whether they was for or against it, I just didn’t want the influence. I could have cut corners and got flashy with it and worded my words a certain way—nah, I had to be in the rawest, truest form I could possibly be in order for it to be freeing for me, in order for me to have a different outlook and the perspective on people I’m talking to.
“I had to reap whatever consequences came behind that, and also be compassionate and show empathy if they were hurt by it.”
— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) October 11, 2022
Kendrick then went further, saying had he consulted family, “Them shits [songs] would’ve never came out.”
Even after making the album, the rapper deliberated over whether or not to release the project that would become known as Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.
“When I got to completion and I said, ‘I may or may not put this out; I’m not going to put this out; it’s way too much,’ I thought about my children,” he says, a grin spreading across his face. “I thought about when they turn 21, or they’re older in life, and when I got grandchildren, or if I’m long gone—this can be a prerequisite of how to cope. That’s the beauty of it for me.”