Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for BET
Kendrick Lamar is a lot of things to a lot of people. Some love him, some don’t, but no one questions his talent. His star power was manifest in the tidal wave of reactions to his new single ‘i’ that he released earlier this week, almost two years after his critically acclaimed ‘good kid m.A.A.d. city’ debuted on Aftermath.
But part of the charm of that autobiographical album was it’s restraint; we only get a day in the life of Kendrick Lamar, not the whole story. So while he’s now an international star, there are still details about who he is that remain unknown to the general public. Until now.
While music fans await his next album with excitement, we excavated the K-Dot archives to find out what his guilty pleasure is, who he bit on his first mixtape and why Dr. Dre signed him. These are 25 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Kendrick Lamar.
His top 10 rappers are a mix of hip-hop’s elite.
Jay Z, Nas, 2Pac, Snoop, Biggie, Eminem, Andre 3000, Rakim, Kurupt, Method Man and DMX as an alternate 10.
He watched Dre and ‘Pac shoot the video for ‘California Love’ when he was 9 years old.
His father put him on his shoulders so he could see, and it sparked his dreams to become a rapper.
Kendrick’s guilty pleasure is listening to more neo-soul than rap.
“Given the fact that I do a lot of rapping in my music, off the record I’m really toned down, listening to Erykah Badu.” He does do a lot of rapping.
He recorded ‘Look Out For Detox’ right after meeting Dr. Dre.
Dre anointed Kendrick in that very first meeting.
The diversity at his shows inspired him to write ‘F— Your Ethnicity.’
He’s often quoted as wanting to make music that inspires young people who grow up in rough neighborhoods like he did.
‘Keisha’s Song’ is based on a real 17-year-old girl Kendrick knew.
She is his friend’s younger sister, and right after he saw her standing on a block known for prostitution, he went home and wrote the song.
He went to the same high school as Dr. Dre.
Though the good doctor graduated way before Kendrick did, they both attended Compton’s Centennial High School.
Dre reached out to Kendrick after seeing his ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ video.
The record was at once street rap while also mocking it.
Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg was the first one to show Kendrick Lamar’s music to Dr. Dre.
That led Dre to ‘Ignorance Is Bliss.’
He recorded his first mixtape at age 16.
It was called ‘Youngest Head N—- in Charge (Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year)’ under the name K-Dot.
He admits to biting one of his favorite rappers, Prodigy, on that debut tape.
From a piece called “The Four MC’s That Made Kendrick Lamar.” Peep how Kendrick sounds over ‘Shook Ones’ compared to P — “Pockets got a melody, carryin’ notes.”
Charles Hamilton and K.Dot took part in a rap battle against each other.
Charles was wandering around battling anyone who would step. Charles is known to get stepped to.
Voting in elections doesn’t fall into his system of beliefs.
In 2012, Kendrick said Schoolboy Q was the best rapper in TDE.
According to this Fader feature, he was in agreement with Jay Rock and Ab-Soul on the matter.
Kendrick’s younger sister once said she preferred YG’s music instead of her brother’s.
His father was a member of the notorious Gangster Disciples in Chicago.
When the family moved to L.A., uncles and cousins kept gangbanging.
Neither of his parents graduated high school
He thinks Jay Z will “probably go down as the greatest to ever do it.”
He says, “Pac also could’ve had that [top spot], but due to his passing, we’ll never know if he’d have reached that.
Lil Wayne cosigned Kendrick’s ‘C4’ mixtape in 2009.
K. Dot was rapping on ‘Tha Carter III’ beats for the mixtape.
His rider includes Fruity Pebbles, baked chicken, a bottle of Hennessey and some Polo socks.
His grandma always told him, “You ain’t got to take a shower for four days, but put some fresh socks on and you’ll feel better about yourself.”
In 2013, he claimed to not own a home or apartment.
He was always either on tour, in a hotel or at the studio.
When he was 16, he auditioned for the founder of TDE, Anthony “Top” Tiffith, by stepping into the booth and freestyling for two hours.
Tiffith pretended to ignore Kendrick, but soon had him in the studio with Jay Rock.
…and he was killing ciphers at age 17.
Here he is spitting for Dave Free and Anthony “Top” Tiffith.
He likes listening to indie bands like Sonnymoon and Quadron.
These indie bands inspire him “ … in terms of the melodics of things and certain tones and just what feels good. It takes me back to the type of music that I grew up on in my household.“