Mad Facts About Kendrick Lamar

November 8, 2023 | Daniel Fishbayn

Mad Facts About Kendrick Lamar

“Hip hop is not the problem. The reality is the problem of the situation. This is our music. This is us expressing ourselves.Rather than contributing to the turmoil on the streets, we're stepping into the recording booth to voice our thoughts on the situation, hoping to positively influence the youth through this medium".—Kendrick Lamar

They just don’t make ‘em like Kendrick anymore. The West Coast rapper was recently recognized with the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his album, which marked him as the first non-classical or jazz artist to ever receive the award. This seems like poetic justice for a man who transcended the tumultuous gang environment he was raised in Compton, California, USA—birthplace of N.W.A., Tupac, and numerous other hip-hop icons—and evolved into a stalwart for peace and personal creativity within Black communities throughout America. Here are 39 facts that shed light on a brilliant artist who refuses to be taken out of his element.

1. Mom's Kitchen

Some rappers go to clubs for inspiration. Others go on vacation in Paris. Kendrick? He goes to the place where he ate most of his meals growing up: his momma’s kitchen. He stated in a 2017 interview with Dave Chappelle that he penned most of his 2012 breakout album in his mom's kitchen.

2. Universal Story

In his 2017 chat with comedian Dave Chappelle for Interview magazine, Kendrick pointed out, “I can go around the world and hear people recite those lyrics, and understand the story, even though they’re not from the same area I grew up in…. It’s fascinating to me how far an idea can go".

Kendrick Lamar factsFlickr, John Bauld

3. Straight A's

Kendrick didn’t necessarily prioritize school over his rapping, but he was still a very successful student, getting straight As throughout most of high school. He later paid it forward to his cohort by inviting students from his alma mater to the Grammys.

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

4. Turn in Your Homework

“School was pretty fun for me,” the rapper said in a 2015 BBC 6 interview. He recalled a poetry assignment in high school that he forgot about until the last minute, and then rushed to finish it 10 minutes before class started. According to Kendrick, he still got an A. “I knew when it was time to press the button...and get the grade,” he said.

Kendrick Lamar factsWikipedia

5. A Cool $40 Million

Kendrick’s publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music expires in 2018, and that means the rapper and his management company, Top Dawg Entertainment, are looking at offers from publishers who want to buy the rights to both Kendrick’s back catalogue and his forthcoming music. The price range? Up to $40 million, a large percentage of which would go directly to K.Dot.

Kendrick Lamar factsShutterstock

6. Duck-what?

You didn’t really think Kendrick Lamar was predictable enough to use his real name for his music, did you? To be fair, Kendrick didn’t change it much—he just cut off his last name, and used his middle name, “Lamar,” instead. The full name he was given at birth? “Kendrick Lamar Duckworth". Yep, you read that right.

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

7. Tribute

The track "Duckworth," a reference to Kendrick's real last name, is the 14th and final entry on his album, and it's a fitting conclusion to a record that is all about struggling with one's identity.

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

8. Big Fan

When Kendrick collaborated with J. Cole on the track “HiiiPower,” he sat through 25 stages of mixing because he was so enraptured by the producer’s talent. “His production is crazy, man. The first time we locked in, he played about 10 beats. I wanted 11 of ‘em,” he said.

Kendrick Lamar factsWallpaper flare

9. Cleaning up 

Good thing Kendrick is so humble, because he was an unstoppable force at the 2018 Grammy Awards. Starting with a breathtaking performance that fused songs from his album into a medley, Kendrick later secured a total of five awards, including Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for "Humble".

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

10. High School Sweetheart

"Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty," he rapped on his album, and Kendrick is loyal to the core. There’s no better proof than the fact that he is still in a relationship with Whitney Alford, his girlfriend from their high school days.

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

11. BFFs

In a 2015 interview with Power 105.1’s "The Breakfast Club," Kendrick stated of his long-time girlfriend:“I wouldn’t even call her my girl. That’s my best friend. I don’t even like the term that society has put out into the world as far as being a companion. She’s somebody I can tell my fears to".

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

12. Watching Some Legends

With so many rappers making their names in Compton, it’s not unusual to see a music video being filmed on the streets. In an interview for the Grammys, Kendrick disclosed that as a boy growing up in Compton, he observed Dr. Dre and Tupac producing the video for their single "California Love".

Kendrick Lamar factsFlickr, Jason Persse

13. Mortal Man

“My dad put me on his shoulders,” Kendrick recalled of the Dre and Tupac video shoot in his interview for the Grammys. “There they was, Dr. Dre and Tupac, right there in a white Bentley". He went on to become a close collaborator with Dr. Dre, and would pen a tribute to Tupac.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. factsFlickr, InSapphoWeTrust

14. Hip-Hop Religion

Along with his collaborators in the Black Hippy Collective, he began promoting a hip-hop movement in his track “HiiiPoWeR,” which was heavily themed around social consciousness and activism. The rapper elaborated that the movement, which is a response to the “madness” of contemporary America, started in Los Angeles but was “spreading like wildfire” across the USA.

Kendrick Lamar factsWikipedia

15. Trifecta

Kendrick explained that the three i’s in “HiiiPoWeR” are symbolic of the three main values of the movement: heart, honor, and respect.

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

16. Destiny

Kendrick reminisced, recalling his experience of watching Dre and Tupac film their music video, "There was destiny in that moment... whether I knew it or not, subconsciously, that experience guided me towards what I'm doing right now".

Kendrick Lamar factsShutterstock

17. I Know You!

Years later, when Kendrick signed a deal with Dr. Dre to work together on Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, he shared his treasured memory with the legendary producer. It turned out Dre remembered the exact moment too.

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

18. Born Again

It’s no secret that Kendrick holds Christian beliefs, as his faith shows up frequently in his lyrics, and he even revealed in an interview with Complex that he was baptized during a live performance in 2013. "I got a greater purpose,” he said. “God put something in my heart to get across and that's what I'm going to focus on, using my voice as an instrument and doing what needs to be done".

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester FactsPxHere

19. The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Not everyone was a fan of his costume when he dressed up as Jesus one Halloween, posting a photo of the getup on Instagram. Kendrick, however, defended his choice, saying, “If I want to idolize somebody, I'm not going to do a scary monster. I'm not gonna do another artist or a human being—I'm gonna idolize the Master, who I feel is the Master, and try to walk in His light".

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

20. Gang Ties 

The rapper has been vocal about his view that gang conflicts in America ruin the lives of young individuals raised in such circumstances, a reality he can personally confirm. His father is known to have been affiliated with the Disciples organization, with rumors suggesting that his extended family maintains association with the Bloods group. Much of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City is about Kendrick’s experience of being dragged into joining a gang.

Kendrick Lamar factsFlickr, Chris Yarzab

21. A Glimpse Into His Childhood

Kendrick is seen throwing up gang signs on the cover of his bestselling album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, and that’s a pretty shocking image given that he’s only a baby in the photograph. “We got photo books full of pictures like that,” he told Spin. “I was in that atmosphere every day until my teenage years. It’s still so vivid to me. This picture shows how far I really come".

Kendrick Lamar factsShutterstock

22. K.Dot

Kendrick tried out a couple of different monikers when he was first releasing mixtapes, one of which was his teenage nickname “K.Dot".

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

23. Getting Real

Speaking to Hard Knock TV in 2011, Kendrick explained that he felt the name “K.Dot” was a distraction from the vulnerability he wanted to show in his music. “The name change was just me basically developing myself,” he told Hard Knock TV. “When people heard the name K.Dot, they were like, ‘The kid is dope, he can rap; but who is he?’ That went on for years—just another kid in the streets that can rap good, right? So I was like, ‘Y’know what? I want people to know who I am as a person and what I represent.’"

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

24. King of West Coast Hip-Hop

At a concert in 2011, after performing his song “Michael Jordan,” Kendrick was joined onstage by rappers Snoop Dogg and The Game, who spoke directly to the crowd to make an announcement. They proceeded to dub Kendrick the new King of West-Coast Hip-Hop, with Game shouting, “The torch has been passed!”

Worst Concerts Ever factsWikimedia Commons

25. Black Hippy

Kendrick has been affiliated with the West Coast collective Black Hippy, whose members include Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul, since the beginning of his career. They have released a number of collaborative tracks together, and recently announced a 2018 joint tour, “The Championship Tour".

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

26. Vice City

In 2015, the Black Hippies got together to record the Jay Rock single “Vice City". Kendrick features prominently in the music video, shot in a monochrome inside a barnhouse, with exotic dancers grabbing from all sides to get a piece of the world-famous rapper.

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

27. Call Out

You may remember the 2012 track “Control,” where Kendrick issued a challenge to a whole series of rappers including J. Cole, Drake, and Big Sean himself to step it up and set a higher benchmark for hip-hop. Is it bad manners to criticize the rapper who hosted you on his track? Kendrick certainly didn’t think so.

Drake factsGetty Images

28. Topping the Charts

Kendrick’s 2016 release untitled unmastered was a compilation of song ideas that hadn’t made it to full production on To Pimp A Butterfly. But Kendrick’s starpower and the quality of the music were enough to propel the demo tape to the number one spot on the US Billboard 200.

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

29. Father Figure

Growing up in Compton, Kendrick benefitted from having his dad around to dissuade him from getting involved in the gang activity that so many of his peers were involved in.

Kendrick Lamar factsWikipedia

30. Sweet Temptation

The rapper revealed in a 2013 interview with Arsenio Hall that his mother named him after The Temptations' cooing lead singer Eddie Kendricks. She dropped the “s” from his last name to come up with the first name “Kendrick".

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

31. Not Ignorant Any More

When Kendrick was still an emerging rapper, Dr. Dre saw the video for his track “Ignorance is Bliss". Dre was impressed and asked him to come in and record featured verses on his then-upcoming album Detox.

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

32. Prank Call

Kendrick revealed in a 2012 interview that his studio engineer was the first one to be contacted by Dr. Dre, who asked to speak to Kendrick himself. He was on tour at the time with Jay Rock. “My engineer called and said [Dr. Dre] was looking for me. We thought it was fake and whatnot,” he recalled.

Kendrick Lamar factsShutterstock

33. Good Meal?

Later, Kendrick elaborated on his first call with Dr. Dre. Specifically, he was sitting in a Chili’s restaurant. “I’ll never forget it,” he told Howard Stern in a 2017 interview. “We got a call like, ‘Yo, Dr. Dre likes your music.’ And it was like, ‘Who the [profanity] is this?’ We hung up. We might have blown it right there, but another call came in from somebody else, and then another from someone else. They were trying to reach out to figure out [which management company] I was with".

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

34. Secret Meaning

The “M.A.A.D” in the title of his second album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, is an acronym for something that happened to him when he was a teenager. In an interview, he stated that the acronym actually refers to a distressing incident where he unknowingly inhaled marijuana laced with the drug PCP, colloquially referred to as "angel dust," at a party. As he explained,“The basic standout meaning is ‘my angel’s on angel dust.’ It’s in the album. It’s in the story. It was just me getting my hands on the wrong thing at the wrong time, being oblivious to it".

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

35. Bad Trip

Owing to unfortunate past incidents, Kendrick has asserted that he abstains from drinking and involving in any form of substance misuse. “That’s the reason why I don’t smoke,” he said. “That was me. I got laced. The reason I don’t smoke". Since then, he has endeavored to convey to the youth that they don't require controlled substances to lead a joyful life. He believes that hip-hop artists are not only causing harm to the youth through their lyrical content regarding narcotics, but also becoming simply mundane. “You have certain artists portraying [drug use as cool]… and it gives off the wrong [message]. And it becomes kinda corny after a while. It’s really about keeping hip-hop original and pushing away the corniness in it".

Kendrick Lamar factsWikipedia

36. Cereal Killer

Kendrick isn’t just your everyday fan of sugar cereal; he’s a regular aficionado. In a Youtube video posted by Complex, Kendrick straight-up ranted about the different sugar cereals he eats, and went into detail about exactly how they should be eaten. His favorite cereal? The Flintstones-themed Fruity Pebbles.

John Cena factsFlickr, Mike Mozart

37. Just Right

The rapper revealed in his video demonstration for Complex that he lets his cereal sit soaking up the milk for around a minute before eating it. Why? He likes it “sixty percent soft, and the other forty crunchy".

Kendrick Lamar factsPiqsels

38. An Insult to Breakfast Food

Kendrick made his views clear during his rant on cereal while speaking to Complex. “Don’t talk to me about no [profanity] Raisin Bran, dawg. Wheaties?! Stop it. You pick that up in the aisle when you’re walking with me and I’m liable to punch you in the face".

Kendrick Lamar factsWikimedia Commons

39. Remembering His Roots

The concluding track on the album, named "Duckworth," describes the real-life event where Kendrick's father, Kenny “Ducky” Duckworth, successfully averted a potential theft by producer Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith. This incident took place when Kendrick was still a child and when Top Dawg was involved with a gang. To keep on amicable terms, Ducky would give Tiffith extra biscuits. Much later, Top Dawg would sign the young Kendrick Lamar to a recording contract that is still in effect today. Kendrick’s success propelled the tiny indie label to worldwide fame.

Kendrick Lamar factsGetty Images

Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

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