Eleven nominations is one fewer than Michael Jackson’s record.
I’m still soaking that all in. Michael will forever be the greatest. I’m glad it was at 11. I would never want to even think about putting myself on the same level as Michael, simply because I haven’t put in the work that he did. It couldn’t be a better number.
Is there one award you want to win above all?
Ultimately, for the hip-hop community, I would love for us to win them all. Because we deserve that. Period.
A hip-hop album winning those general interest categories would be a statement.
I want all of them. Because it’s not only a statement for myself, but it’s a statement for the culture. They’re all important, because of the foundation the forefathers laid before me. Nas didn’t get a chance to be in that position. Pac. So to be acknowledged and to actually win, it’s for all of them.
When did you realize that “Alright” was becoming an anthem for Black Lives Matter?
When I’d go in certain parts of the world, and they were singing it in the streets. When it’s outside of the concerts, then you know it’s a little bit more deep-rooted than just a song. It’s more than just a piece of a record. It’s something that people live by — your words.
Did you expect it to connect on that level?
Definitely. Simple phrase: We gon’ be alright. It’s a chant of hope and feeling. I credit that to Pharrell, for being able to present an arrangement and to inspire me to do a record like that. Immediately, I knew the potential.
Does this feel to you like an artistically vibrant moment for political and explicitly, radically black music?
Music moves with the times. It’s not something we have to consciously do. This is what’s happening in the world — not only to me but to my community. Whenever I make music, it reflects where I’m at mentally. And this is where we’re at. When you look at other artists doing the same thing, it’s of the times. And it’s much needed.
President Obama said “How Much a Dollar Cost” was his favorite song of the year. Did you know before everyone else, or did you find out from People magazine?
I found out when everyone else found out. It’s crazy. That’s one of my favorite records, too. A lot of times we forget that people in higher places are human. To hear that he liked the same kick drums and the same snares that I like, it just makes him that much more relatable as a person, rather than just a president.
Why the decision to play live only occasionally in intimate settings instead of going on the world tour that usually follows an album of this size?
The album just felt like an intimate process. It was all feeling. Maybe in another five, 10 years we’ll be able to take it on a world tour and give it its proper exposure. But present time, I just want to hold it dear. I didn’t want to overexpose it. It could be in arenas one day. I don’t feel like the time is right.
What was your favorite rap music of this year?
Of course Future killed it. He smashed. Drake smashed. Future’s work ethic was crazy, his energy. This is the thing about hip-hop music and where people get it most misconstrued: It’s all hip-hop. You can’t say that just what I do is hip-hop, because hip-hop is all energies. James Brown can get on the track and mumble all day. But guess what: You felt his soul on those records.
So you don’t buy this separation between “real hip-hop” and party records?
No, I don’t. If it makes you feel good, and it makes you move — I don’t know these guys personally. I don’t know what makes them move on a personal level. I can’t knock it. It feels good when I listen to it, when I’m in that vibe. You feel it. You can get the highest level of that — you can get Future — or you can get the watered-down version, somebody else trying to be that. That’s the bad [expletive].
We recently held our second annual TDE Holiday Concert + Toy Giveaway in the Nickerson Gardens Projects in Watts. The free event was open to the public and focused on providing the Watts community with the gift of the holiday spirit through toys, shoes, food and much more, highlighted by a concert from the entire TDE roster.Previous: Kendrick Lamar Covers XXL Magazine (Pic, Video x Excerpt)