Kendrick Lamar is the subject of a new cover story by Lisa Robinson for Vanity Fair. Among the topics addressed is the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music, which Kendrick accepted on May 30. “It was one of those things I heard about in school,” he said, “but I never thought I’d be a part of it.” Kendrick continued:
[When I heard I got it], I thought, to be recognized in an academic world… whoa, this thing really can take me above and beyond. It’s one of those things that should have happened with hip-hop a long time ago. It took a long time for people to embrace us—people outside of our community, our culture—to see this not just as vocal lyrics, but to see that this is really pain, this is really hurt, this is really true stories of our lives on wax. And now, for it to get the recognition that it deserves as a true art form, that’s not only great for myself, but it makes me feel good about hip-hop in general. Writers like Tupac, Jay Z, Rakim, Eminem, Q-Tip, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop…. It lets me know that people are actually listening further than I expected. When I looked up at that man on the podium today [May 30], I just had countless pictures in my mind of my mother putting me in suits to go to school. Suit and tie, from the dollar store, from thrift shops, when I was a kid.
Elsewhere, Kendrick discussed the use of the “n-word” in hip-hop, as well as the infamous incident during his set at Alabama’s Hangout Festival, where a white fan rapped the “n-word” uncensored while performing “m.A.A.d city” on stage with Kendrick. (“You gotta bleep one single word,” Kendrick told her.) “Let me put it to you in its simplest form. I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do. Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city,” Kendrick said to Vanity Fair. “So many things—‘you can’t do that’—whether it’s from afar or close up. So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.”
In addition, Kendrick commented on Kanye West’s recent remarks about Donald Trump and slavery. “He has his own perspective, and he’s on this whole agree to disagree thing, and I would have this conversation with him personally if I want to,” Kendrick said.