Ahead of his second Coachella performance this weekend, Kendrick Lamar sat down with Beats 1 to discuss his critically acclaimed album DAMN.. It’s the first interview the rapper has done since the album’s release, and he has a lot to say about his creative process, his artistic influences and Donald Trump.
Lamar said he’s written a lot of tracks about Trump, out of “pure frustration” with the state of the government and the country. However, when it came to DAMN., Lamar wanted to turn inward and focus on self-examination. “It’s an album about my own self-discipline,” he tells Beats 1 host Zane Lowe. “That’s my favorite word this past year, discipline and obedience, and how to control your own emotions and how to even speak that truth on a record, to expose yourself even more, to have that closer connection with another human, and have them relate to it.”
“I want it to live for the next 20 years. You have to listen to it over and over and over again to fully understand the direction and message I put in there, the execution of it. I want you to do that.”
Lamar is known for his use of cryptic messages and complex, hidden themes within his albums. He says he uses wordplay to entice the listener to think deeply about his work, and to appreciate the album for more than a week. “I want it to live further than two weeks, further than the attention span of how we all was as kids. We take it, we listen to it, and we move on,” he says. “But I want it to live for the next 20 years. You have to listen to it over and over and over again to fully understand the direction and message I put in there, the execution of it. I want you to do that.”
He also discusses several specific songs, and the meanings behind them. According to Lamar, “DNA.” explores coming to grips with a famous lifestyle: “It’s me recognizing the world around me, me recognizing the lifestyle that I’ve grown to see and indulge in from time to time.” As for “XXX.,” which surprised everyone with its U2 feature, Lamar says, “[The song] is the idea of complete chaos and madness. That’s what I got from it. Organized madness. Controlled madness.”
You can read more interview highlights and watch the full interview with Lowe via Apple Music here. Don’t forget to check out Paste’s review of DAMN., which, by the way, earned a near-perfect score. Also, don’t miss Lamar’s recently released music videos for “HUMBLE.” and “DNA.”