So much of what I learned about Kendrick in this interview with Jay Rubin were things I suspected from having listened to this work thus far and from listening to DAMN like so many times since it dropped. I don’t even know how many times I’ve listened to it.
As a fellow Gemini, I recognize several core elements of Lamar’s personality off the bat. I can tell a bit about who his musical influences are. I can tell he loves film and visual mediums. By now I’ve heard him use his voice to morph into numerous different characters and personalities which is a very Geminian trait; exploration of self through multitudinous expressions, experimentation, ease with adaptation and emphasis on the craft of storytelling.
I’m fascinated by his ability to use his many voices so purposefully, to not get lost or overwhelmed or scattered which is often one of my greatest challenges with expression. I mean, I’m sure he’s challenged by it but at the end of the day he puts something out that is cohesive, wildly original, unapologetic, alive, authentic and uncompromising. As Rubin says, you don’t have to agree with it to be able to respect it because you know it’s something he truly connects to. That alone is deeply inspiring to me.
The first song of Kendricks that caught my ear was “Hood Politics.” It was playing in a small Black owned Wine store in Harlem that I had wandered into with my friend Cece one evening. I remember trying to make out the words in the hook so I could file it away mentally so that I could look it up again later. I feel like he did three or four distinctly different things on that track that morphed into one another in unexpected and not altogether cognitive ways. Similarly to the structure of some Bjork’s tracks, I was excitingly jarred by the disjointedness of it. I wanted to hear it again. I wanted to listen closer, take it apart, decode it, ponder his choices. It’s really rare that I feel like I hear something new, which is not to say that that I don’t hear anything I like and even love. But new?
Of course nothing is ever really new upon closer inspection. But fresh new interpretations of the old are definitely worth examining deeply because they often signal the beginning of new movements, a shifting of collective consciousness towards what it means to truly not give a fuck about oppressive establishments, governments, systems and regimes. It makes those of us seeking out definitions of freedom, perk up and take notice. Someone understands. Someone else feels similar. Someone else has made the leap of faith that comes with baring your soul at the risk of perceived failure. Though it seems impossible to me that being authentic and vulnerable could ever truly be met with failure. How can you fail when you’re being real?
Check out out Rubin’s interview with Kendrick here.