Kendrick Lamar: I'm the next Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre

16/11/12

Kendrick Lamar

Last month Taylor Swift's latest album RED sold 1.2 million copies in its first week in the US.

It overshadowed a slightly less glamorous success. That same week Kendrick Lamar's major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city, shifted 240,000 copies reaching number two.

It was a significant bookmark in the journey of 25-year-old from Compton, Los Angeles.

It was the culmination of two year's worth of taste makers hyping him as the most promising talent in hip hop. He's ready for it.

Rap legends

"You look at people like Jay-Z, Nas, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg - all these cats promised longevity," he says, sat in a dusky dressing room in the attic of London's Brixton Academy.

He's fresh off stage, wiping beads of sweat from his forehead, talking quickly and quietly.

"Those artists already did it, they conquered. That's the ambition I have - that's what I'm looking forward to."

Kendrick Lamar
Image caption Kendrick Lamar recently performed at BBC Radio 1Xtra Live in London

Lamar's put himself on a firm footing to do that. Ask Trevor Nelson or DJ Semtex and they'll tell you good kid… is one of the best hip hop albums of recent years.

"A whole lot of preparation went into the album so it feels good for people to acknowledge that," he says.

Indeed, making it wasn't just the normal blood, sweat and tears, but also revisiting some tough memories.

"It was really just finding some type of inspiration every day," he recalls. "When I go back home, go back to the city, go back to my mum's house, being around some old friends, watching some old flicks or old tapings of myself."

He raps about gang-on-gang violence and break-ins on the album - a life, in his teens, he chose to leave behind.

"My parents? They always tell me, the best gift I can give them is that I went out there and did something - rather than what everyone else was doing."

Lady Gaga
Image caption Lady Gaga's version of Don't Kill My Vibe didn't make it onto Kendrick's album

Lamar: "It poured a lot out of me to actually talk about it.

"Some things you don't want the world to actually know, but I figured if I can tell my story to help the next adolescent then why not?"

'Career goals'

Legendary Compton producer Dr Dre put all of his own pursuits on hold for 12 months to contribute.

"He's been in the game 30 years. I've only been in it one," says Lamar, almost in disbelief. "To have him acknowledge it was truly a masterpiece once we heard it just proved that the music that I make is really timeless."

The sold out UK headline shows set for 2013, and the crowd of 5,000 fans rapping every word of the album back to him at Brixton suggest Lamar's got more than a promising future.

"There's valleys and peaks in everyone's career but I really want that longevity - to be talked about as somebody innovative," he adds.

"This is just the beginning for me. I'm sure it will blossom out into something much bigger.

"Kids that are 5 or 6 years old now will know about Kendrick Lamar when they're 15 - going back and studying this album."

good kid, m.A.A.d city is out now