Kendrick Lamar Talks Legacy and Colorism

By Qimmah Saafir May 26, 2015

Kendrick Lamar was recently interviewed for Ebony magazine’s June cover story. The 27-year-old Grammy winner spoke candidly about topics such as his latest album and his road to becoming an emcee. A few of the unpublished outtakes from the conversation were shared via 

When asked if parallels exist between his most recent work and 1970s concept albums that served as commentary on socio-political climates, Lamar stated that he is carrying on the legacy of artists such as Marvin Gaye.

The times that we are in, it’s something that you can only feel in the air. You don’t even have to talk about it. You don’t need the news or the Internet to watch it. You can walk outside and just feel it. And these are the same times that I believe Marvin Gaye and them felt, just in a whole other generational perspective. He’s been on that wave. And for me to know he’s been on that wave, Marvin Gaye, and to carry on that type of legacy is only right. I am from Compton. I am from the inner city, the ghetto. And if I can use my platform to carry on a legacy and talk about something that’s real, I have to do that, period.

Lamar also responded to the online scrutiny his Rolling Stone cover — an image of the rapper getting his hair cornrowed by a women with light skin — received.

We’re brainwashed. I don’t know what happened, but colorism is not a good thing, especially when you’re Black. Yes, it was a Black girl. And I wasn’t raised like that, because it’s lighter tones and darker tones in my family. We look so much on color that we forget about the soul. Color don’t tell if people Black. It’s the soul. Once these words come up out my mouth, and these yams come up out my mouth, you know I’m not faking. [laughter] You gonna get that instantly. Being where you from is a strong genetic. You can’t run from it.

Read more of his comments on spirituality, love and black people in America, here