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Kendrick Lamar weighs in on Ferguson: “When we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us?”

on January 10, 2015, 10:55am

Photo by Nina Corcoran

With one of 2015’s most anticipated albums, Kendrick Lamar is the focus of this week’s issue of Billboard. In the magazine’s cover story, the Compton MC weighed in on a number of topics, music related and not, including Ferguson, the stunning untitled track he debuted on The Colbert Report, and his thoughts on Iggy Azalea. Check out some choice excerpts below and the full Billboard interview here.

When asked about the controversial death of Michael Brown, Kendrick spoke candidly, saying that although it should never have happened, change must also come from within communities like Ferguson:

“I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s f—ked up. What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.” Lamar, who has said that he wasn’t raised devoutly religious, fingers the small figure of Christ dangling from a chain around his neck. “We’re in the last days, man — I truly in my heart believe that. It’s written. I could go on with Biblical situations and things my grandma told me. But it’s about being at peace with myself and making good with the people around me.”

While many praised Kendrick’s Colbert Report performance, he admitted that the untitled track will likely not appear on the follow-up to good kid, m.A.A.d city, which is expected to drop in the first half of 2015. Still, it’s clear that he’s mighty proud of the song and the way in which he delivered it that night.

“I just like the energy” of the song, says Lamar. “I didn’t go on there to sell a single. I just did what I felt.” Such is the prerogative of Kendrick Lamar, widely hailed as hip-hop’s savior in a period when few rappers seem committed to art for art’s sake. While image-conscious leading MCs like Drake and Nicki Minaj competitively hone their craft and tally hits, Lamar seems intent on transcending what he calls the “sport” of rap: “I pride myself on writing now rather than rapping,” he says. “My passion is bringing storylines around and constructing a full body of work, rather than just a 16-bar verse.”

Iggy Azalea has been tanged up in much drama, with everyone from Azealia Banks to Eminem to Nicki Minaj taking turns hurling disses. Kendrick, however, comes to the Aussie pop star’s defense:

“She’s doing her thing,” he says. “Let her. People have to go through trials and tribulations to get where they at. Do your thing, continue to rock it, because obviously God wants you here.”