During his hour-long interview on The Howard Stern Show, Kendrick Lamar was asked by the veteran radio host to share his thoughts on constantly being compared to Tupac, a regurgitated topic that seemingly won't die.
Specifically, Stern frames the question around pressure, asking Kendrick whether or not he feels the weight of the genre on his shoulders every time he releases new music.
“I wouldn’t say a lot of pressure because these are individuals that I’ve studied,” Lamar redirects. “2Pac, JAY-Z—of course, to get that type of acknowledgment is great, but at the end of the day, as long as I don’t get caught up in the idea or the design of being exactly like these artists and continue to be Kendrick Lamar, then I can only move forward. When the artists get caught up in that type of hype, that’s when things get tricky and that’s when [there is] pressure.”
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To be ‘Kendrick Lamar,’ the TDE superstar has had to take on the mindset that he is the best rapper ever, full stop. "I have to,” he stressed to Stern. “That’s the only way it’s going to move the culture forward.”
The “it,” of course, is his music.
As Kendrick has redefined himself and his sound—from West Coast to jazz, to cataclysm—on every album, it's grown increasingly more difficult to deny that he has also rerouted the course of hip-hop as a genre and as a movement.
Holding himself in such high regard, a trait that is inherent to hip-hop artists, has led Kendrick to produce his best and most thought-provoking music, but it is also a service to aspiring artists who look to him for guidance. If Kendrick Lamar validates experimenting with new flows, concepts, or production, younger artists are going to follow suit and start experimenting.
Though artists should always remember to practice humanity, if Kendrick believing he’s the best leads to quality music across the board, we’re fully in support.