When Kendrick Lamar met Rick Rubin
(Credit: Batiste Safont)

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When Kendrick Lamar met Rick Rubin

There is no denying that Kendrick Lamar and Rick Rubin are two titans of hip-hop. Two names who have both helped lug the genre into a new space thanks to their innovative music creation.

In 2016 it was revealed that the two of them had worked on music together following a sit-down conversation they had at Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios for GQ Style. Before that meeting, they’d never even been in each other’s company. However, the duo got on so royally that they soon started cooking up music together.

The results of those sessions have still not surfaced, but perhaps we’ll get to hear them on Kendrick’s highly anticipated new album, which is expected to drop later this year. Although Rubin came from a punk background, he was at the forefront of the hip-hop revolution in the ’80s and worked closely with acts such as LL Cool J.

While in recent decades, Rubin has been more associated with rock music, he still keeps his toes dipped into rap music and has worked with giants of the genre such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Eminem.

His conversation with Kendrick is utterly enlightening and provides a fascinating glimpse into the rapper’s psyche that you don’t understand from just listening to his music.

At one particularly fascinating point, Lamar opens up about being his own biggest critic and tells the producer: “It’s really about me challenging myself, I think my excitement for music is me feeling like I’m never stagnant, me feeling like I didn’t get comfortable in my own skin or what I think is good, and stepping outside of my comfort zone and mastering it.”

He continued: “That excites me when I feel like I’ve accomplished that, and it just keeps the hunger for more going. I don’t feel like I’ll ever stop.”

The rapper addressed his chameleon type ability to flick so seamlessly between genres and styles. Lamar puts this down to his upbringing, namely, how he inherited his love of Prince from his father, who used to play the late singer in the house non-stop when he was growing up, and it made him see music in a whole new light. 

“He just gave me so many different emotions, and I see the way that my father always connected with him, and I studied it. Alongside lyricists, I’ve studied R&B, soul, to even pop, and eventually, all of these things gather up to how I connect and approach music.”

The whole conversation is worth devouring, and after watching the 50-minute one-on-one talk between these two geniuses, you’ll understand Kendrick Lamar on an even more profound level than before.