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Kendrick Lamar Appreciates Mumble Rap, As Long as It's Respectful

In his Forbes 30 Under 30 interview, Kung-Fu Kenny doesn't just talk numbers.
Screencap via Forbes

Kendrick Lamar is featured on the cover of Forbes' most recent edition of their annual 30 Under 30 issue, and the magazine's senior editor Zack O'Malley Greenburg spoke with the rapper at a summit in October for the issue. That interview has now been published and, true to Lamar's character, is honest and nonchalantly profound.

Greenburg asks Kendrick about being labelled as a "conscious," intellectual rapper in opposition to mainstream sensibilities, to which he replies:


Everybody have they own opinions, but … I always go back to what 50 Cent said, and it always stuck with me. And when he said it, it made an even more valid point. He said, "We all are conscious, whether you're doing gangsta rap, whether you're doing so called conscious rap, whether you doing whatever genre you may in because you have a post, you alive and you're telling your true feelings … these are your true thoughts and you're conscious of them, and you're aware of them. You are conscious, as simple as that." When he said that, that inspired me to not only recognize my own influence on what I have with my people.

It's this non-judgmental air that carries into the next question, about the prevalence of so-called "mumble rap" and if Kendrick's more carefully articulated style exists to be a "responsible" foil to the sound of Lil Uzi Vert and co. While he acknowledges that understanding the roots of hip-hop is important ("[I] never take [our history] for advantage and misuse it."), he seems to be willing to let the younger generation do their thing, just as long as they don't totally trash the older heads:

…at the same time I want to evolve. You know? I want hip-hop to continue to evolve. That's why I can't shun a lot of the artists that may not be a Kendrick Lamar. But this is what I tell them every time I see them … be yourself and do what you do but also know who laid down the groundwork. Don't go on your interviews and diss them and say you don't like them and you don't care for them. That's your opinion, that's cool but you have to respect them. So talking down on the folks that inspired us to do this, it'd never be right. You dig what I'm saying? So at the end of the day as long as you be who you are but respect what got us here, that's how you continue to evolve.

Given his endless support for Lil B and his ill-advised cosigning of XXXTentacion, it makes sense that Kendrick is open-minded towards something like the Soundcloud scene.

Elsewhere in the interview, Kendrick calls Barack Obama "Big Barack," expresses his admiration for YG's "Fuck Donald Trump," ("that's true hip-hop history for sure") and breaks down his and TDE's business practices. You can read the whole thing here.