Kendrick Lamar: ‘I Can’t Change The World Until I Change Myself First’

Kendrick Lamar is a talented musician and has made a name for himself in the industry. Anyone who makes it in the music industry has to push hard and overcome obstacles, but it seems Kendrick Lamar has had to overcome more than most — and from a very young age. Chron reports that Lamar watched a drug dealer get shot in the chest when he was only 5-years-old, growing up in Compton, California.

“It was outside my apartment unit. A guy was out there serving his narcotics and somebody rolled up with a shotgun and blew his chest out. We kids play in this apartment unit, riding our bikes or what not. Admittedly, it done something to me right then and there. It let me know that this is not only something that I’m looking at, but it’s something that maybe I have to get used to – you dig what I’m saying?”

Witnessing a murder would do something to anyone, but especially a 5-year-old kid. Kendrick Lamar also spoke of how close he was to gang life.

“I was on the edge [of gang life]… You grow up inside these neighborhoods and these communities, and you have friends, friends that you love, friends that you grew up with since elementary. And you have their trust, and you have their loyalty. So it brings influence. So no matter how much of a leader I thought I was, I was always under the influence, period. Most of the times, when they were involved in these acts of destruction, I was right there.”

But Kendrick Lamar has the right mentality. He has lost a lot of friends to gang violence, particularly in the past year, but he knows the way to cope is not through violence.

“The message I’m sending to myself – I can’t change the world until I change myself first… For instance, when [my friend] Chad was killed, I can’t disregard the emotion of me relapsing and feeling the same anger that I felt when I was 16, 17 – when I wanted the next family to hurt, because you made my family hurt. Them emotions were still running in me, thinking about him being slain like that. Whether I’m a rap star or not, if I still feel like that, then I’m part of the problem rather than the solution.”

Kendrick Lamar’s new single, “God is Gangsta,” is a perfect example of how he is dealing with his roots through his music. And Lamar’s self-expression has earned him great recognition in the music industry. The New York Times reports that despite his album, To Pimp a Butterfly, never having had a hit single, Lamar has been nominated for 11 Grammy awards in nine categories. This includes best album of the year, and a nomination for his song, “Alright.”

Kendrick Lamar has even impressed President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Rolling Stone reports that the first couple have picked their favorites from 2015, including movies, television shows, books, and music, and Lamar is at the top of their music list. Apparently, Michelle Obama particularly likes “Uptown Funk,” and President Obama likes “How Much a Dollar Cost.”

Kendrick Lamar once told MTV News that “How Much a Dollar Cost” is a true story about his life.

“These are moments in my life deeper than just handing somebody a dollar. These are actually moments of integrity, actually being able to talk to somebody. Me talking to him was simply a thank you from God. And I felt God speaking through him to get at me.”

Well said, Kendrick Lamar!

[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]