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The real reason it takes Kendrick Lamar so long to release albums

Kendrick and Baby Keem interviewed each other for i-D Magazine.

Kendrick Lamar WireImage

Kendrick Lamar discussed his musical process, past albums and more during a conversation with Baby Keem for i-D Magazine’s 40th Anniversary Issue. Keem — Kendrick’s 20-year-old protege — started off the conversation by speaking about his 2019 effort, Die for my Bitch.

“Die for my Bitch was a breakthrough,” Keem said. “It really gave me a chance to play with my sounds and open up the lane to grow in confidence.”

“I get it, that’s what will take me so long to do albums,” responded Kung-Fu Kenny. “I spend the whole year just thinking about how I’m gonna execute a new sound; I can’t do the same thing over and over. I need something to get me excited. I see you get frustrated sometimes because you want some new shit.”

Besides the need to “play” with new sounds, Kendrick revealed he also spends extra effort to make sure his new albums don’t sound like a continuation of his old works. The rapper recalled feeling that “sophomore jinx” after dropping Good Kid M.A.A.D City in 2012.

“It’s all about finding that balance,” he told Keem. “I remember the sophomore jinx of Good Kid M.A.A.D City; it was for that year and for that time. I was in a different space in my life. I already knew off the top I can’t make Good Kid M.A.A.D City Part Two. The second I’m making that, it’s corny bro. That takes the feeling away from the first. I need that muhfucka to live in its own world. Then boom, To Pimp a Butterfly. Some people love it to death; some people hate it.”

Keem asked Kendrick if he tries to surprise himself on each new project, which he replied that he does — another reason why it takes a few years for a K. Dot album to emerge.

“To Pimp a Butterfly did that for me,” he explained. “I had an idea in my head of how I wanted it to sound — built with jazz and blues and hip-hop. But it was more ‘how am I gonna execute that?’”

Unfortunately for fans, it doesn't seem like Kendrick is speeding up his process any for his next effort, the follow-up to 2017’s DAMN. In their i-D conversation, both Kendrick and Keem admitted that the Coronavirus pandemic has slowed down their respective next projects.

“You were supposed to be out; I was supposed to be out,” Keem said. “I’ve had a year to sit down and just think about the next experience.”

Although K-Dot has stayed quiet on the music front this year, his interview with Keem did touch on one new development — pgLang, his new at service company with Dave Free.

“On the music side, you’ve been at the forefront of pgLang. What is your own personal opinion of what this company represents now that you know are in the mix?” Kendrick asked Keem.

“I’ve seen pgLang before it was even an idea that came to fruition. It’s sticking to and believing in something, even when you don’t know how it will be created — and it starts out as just a small idea,” Keem replied. “I believed in it, and I stuck to it and now everything is paying off. So, I’ve seen it from when there was no idea to now. So to me, pgLang represents loyalty and trust.”

Kendrick and Free launched pgLang back in March. Shortly after his and Keem’s i-D interview aired, the company shared a new video starring Keem. See the clip below and read Keem and Kendrick’s full conversation here.

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