By now, it’s clear that Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.,” a No. 1 hit, is very likely the song of 2017, thanks to about four key elements: Kendrick’s unassailable delivery, a hypnotic beat courtesy of Mike Will Made-It, an instantly iconic (and VMA-nominated) music video, and that it was released in late March, allowing it to blossom into a potential Song of the Summer.
In a wide-ranging new interview with Rolling Stone, Kendrick breaks down the inspiration behind the song’s repeated command to be humble: himself. “All I could think of was [Marley Marl’s] “The Symphony” and the earliest moments of hip-hop, where it’s complex simplicity, but it’s also somebody making moves,” he said. “That beat feels like my generation, right now. The first thing that came to my head was, ‘Be humble.'”
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His latest album, DAMN., debuted at No. 1 and has gone double platinum since its April release. “When you look at the song titles on this album, these are all my emotions and all my self-expressions of who I am,” Kendrick continued. “That’s why I did a song like that, where I just don’t give a fuck, or I’m telling the listener, ‘You can’t fuck with me.’ But ultimately, I’m looking in the mirror.”
The interview encompasses everything from his work with U2’s Bono on the DAMN. track “XXX.,” what his favorite Drake song is — “I got a lot of favorite Drake songs. Can’t name one off the back. … He has plenty.” — and whether or not he knew he was unconsciously choosing a side in the Taylor Swift-Katy Perry beef by appearing on Swift’s “Bad Blood” remix in 2015.
“[Through laughter] No, I wasn’t aware of that, bro,” Kendrick said about the legendary contentiousness between the pop stars. “That’s a great question. No! On the record, no. Which makes it even more funny now, for sure. That’s far beyond my concern. I have to stay away from that, for sure. That’s some real beef [laughs].
You can, and should, read the full interview here, especially for this quote at the end, which we should all strive to emulate: “I’m mothafuckin’ optimistic for sure. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t!”
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