Dave Chappelle’s admiration for Kendrick Lamar shines throughout his conversation with the “DAMN.” MC for Interview magazine’s August cover story. In a wide-ranging discussion, which Interview published online yesterday (July 13), the comedian and MC share their thoughts about artists’ responsibility to the masses, coping with fame and more. Here are three excerpts that reveal key details about their creative missions and views on the world:
- CHAPPELLE: …In comedy right now, the issue is, “When does a comedian go too far?” And I imagine in hip-hop that’s been a long-standing debate—even when I was coming up, when Bill Clinton went after Sister Souljah. When you write, how much do you think about the repercussions of anything you might say?
LAMAR: When I look at comedy—at Richard Pryor, at you—it’s all self-expression. I apply that same method to my music. I came up listening to N.W.A and Snoop. Like them, it’s in me to express how I feel. You might like it or you might not, but I take that stand.
- CHAPPELLE: I know you’re a big Tupac fan. And Tupac used to talk about this phenomenon, as he got successful, that he was out of context. He’d say, “Where am I supposed to go? I can’t be around the ‘hood anymore, and they don’t want me in the Hollywood Hills. Where am I supposed to go?” Have you run into any altitude sickness from your ascent, fighting all the way up to where you are now?
LAMAR: I think I’m still growing. The more people I meet, the more cultures I start to embrace, the more people I open myself up to—it’s a growing process I’m excited about. But it’s also a challenge for me, to be at this level and still be able to connect with somebody who’s living that everyday life. At first it was something I struggled with, because everything was moving so fast. I didn’t know how to digest it. The best thing I did was go back to the city of Compton, to touch the people who I grew up with and tell them the stories of the people I met around the world. Making “To Pimp a Butterfly” was me navigating those experiences. I went to Africa and I was like, “This is something I can enjoy and something I can challenge myself with.”
- CHAPPELLE: Me and Mos Def argue about this all the time. Mos is of the belief that a person with a platform has a responsibility to other people. It’s the old adage, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think some people can make conscious records, and some people can make booty records, and other people can make whatever the fuck they want records. But what do you feel, personally, when you’re making a record? Do you have a mission statement? What, if anything, do you hope to accomplish with your platform?
LAMAR: As I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve learned that my mission statement is really self-expression. I don’t want anybody to classify my music. I want them to say, “This is somebody who’s recognizing his true feelings, his true emotions, ideas, thoughts, opinions, and views on the world, all on one record.” I want people to recognize that and to take it and apply it to their own lives. You know what I’m saying? The more and more I get out and talk to different people, I realize they appreciate that—me being unapologetic in whatever views and approach I have.
Read the full interview at InterviewMagazine.com.