Amid kicking off the international leg of “The Big Steppers Tour” in Europe, Kendrick Lamar found time to speak with W Magazine on all things music, life and the “Morale” he’s been carrying since the release of his AOTY contender.
In this new interview, which was published on Tuesday (Oct. 11), K. Dot gave insight on his mindset before and after the creation and release of his latest masterpiece Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, as well as alluding to the possibility that he could have never even dropped it in the first place.
As each artist usually devotes a theme or motivation for every album they create, Kendrick made it clear that this LP would be a catharsis for him. Building up ideas and experiences all throughout his life that he had never shared publicly, he explained his hesitancy to come clean on MM&TBS.
“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,” he said. “It was really about not being insecure (or) tormented by opinions. 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.”
To make this project and reach this level of maturity, Kendrick noted how he had to “re-pattern his thoughts” and look at life through a new lens. Ultimately, although his previous albums were worthwhile because of the outside approval he received, he was content with the intangible, rewarding feeling he got within himself from MM&TBS.
“I’ve had rewards for my other albums in different ways, whether it was accolades, whether it was the Pulitzer, whether it was the Grammys,” he said. “This one is the reward for humanity for me.”
But, with this freeing feeling also came tough conversations, considering he did not consult with any of his family members about the album’s subject matter before its release. Particularly with tracks like “Mother I Sober,” which some listeners took issue with because of the topics of transphobia and dead-naming, Kendrick’s raw approach to the project meant he had to be okay with the consequences that came with it.
“The reason why I had to make that decision, whether they was for or against it, I just didn’t want the influence,” he said. “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.”
Lamar explained that if he would have tried to have these discussions before the album dropped, the songs “would’ve never came out.” In fact, even when the album was practically finished, he had second thoughts about putting it out. But, he knew that his kids and many people younger than him would be able to use MM&TBS as a guide for how to cope and deal with trauma.
“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 said. “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.”
Check out Kendrick Lamar’s entire interview with W Magazine below!