Pushing his pen outside of his usual space, Kendrick Lamar wrote his own cover story for XXL’s final issue of 2014. Recently released online, the long-form article finds Lamar grappling out loud with his newfound fame and position as a role model as he looks ahead to a new album.
“People ask me things like, ‘How does it feel now? What have you bought your mom and your pops and family?’” he wrote. “Nobody ever really asks about what it’s like trying to adapt to fame and money and how much of a depression it can make for you. How much of a depression it could put you in knowing that so many kids hang on to your words. I can’t make a song like ‘i’ without being in that dark place. ‘i’ comes from going overseas, going to New York, being in L.A. and hearing kids saying, ‘Kendrick, I was gonna kill myself last week. Section.80, good kid, m.A.A.d city saved my life.’ Or ‘I was gonna kill myself tonight until I came to your show.’”
Shortly after, the good kid m.A.A.d. city emcee admits to sheltering himself from the fame he earned with his debut.
“I think one of my biggest assets is not knowing how famous I am,” he wrote. “Or even excluding the word, I hate the word ‘famous.’ I’m aware of it. I know people treat me different because of it. And the more I am aware of that and play into it, the more I become detached from the real world. So it’s really about balance. The more somebody opens the door for me and I walk through without acknowledging that they opened the door for me, the more I become separate from others.”
Elsewhere in the article, Kendrick name-drops Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, Pharrell, and Dr. Dre.
“I had a talk with Lauryn Hill and she said, ‘Try to completely throw away your ego,’” he wrote. “How many times can you throw away an ego, you know? It’s tough. It’s something we all battle with. I battle with it all the time and the idea of being in all these places—the big spots, all the events, the lights—it’s all for your ego. It’s all for your own confirmation to be like, okay, I’m somebody. But truthfully, you’ve always been somebody. You don’t need the lights.”
Near the end of the piece, Lamar even admits to being a paranoid over-thinker.
“Artists just get paranoid in any situation and circumstance,” he said. “I’m always paranoid. I’m already a person who thinks a lot; sometimes I may overthink things or think too much. So when you’re put into a space where you feel like you can’t necessarily trust your close ones, that can do some whole other crazy thing to you psychologically. Seriously. All you got is you and God at the end of the day.”