[TWV Exclusive] Kendrick Lamar: Origins Of Excellence Pt. 1
Back in early 2009 I met Jay Rock while working as the executive editor of music at BET (or, the devil in black). It was my first time meeting the Watts rapper and it was his first time entering the offices of Black Entertainment Television. We had a memorable conversation about everything from the rise of a new West Coast to the difficulties of breaking through in the industry without a cosign. The few hours that we spent in the office proved to me that Jay Rock was here with a purpose. But the thing that stuck with me was the fact that he and his manager Dude Dawg spent more time talking about a young Compton emcee named K. Dot than we did about Jay Rock. It was odd to see a new artist pretty much push his own career aside for a fellow emcee. But that’s just the kind of guy Jay Rock is. His manager left me a flash drive with roughly 20 songs from what they described as “the West Coast version of Nas.” Something told me that they weren’t wrong in their assertion. They were right. Upon listening to all twenty K. Dot songs I immediately sent them over to one of my best friends in this industry and advised him to check it out because we might be on to something.
Fast forward a couple of years and here I am sitting with Kendrick Lamar shortly after his performance in Las Vegas. It takes him a moment to figure out who I am, but when he does a long smile stretches across his face. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. It means a lot that you were there when nobody wasn’t,” he says. Without going as far to say I was one of the catalysts for getting Kendrick’s music to the masses, I will say that I knew just how good he was going to be. Even though I was unable to get Kendrick Lamar, or Jay Rock for that matter, proper placement at BET, I was able to hand the music off to the people that I knew could service him to the masses.
So here we are, ready to discuss everything about his humble beginnings to being a part of an album that has been worked on since he was a preteen. In part one of “Origins Of Excellence” I sit down with the 24-year-old to discuss the pressures of being crowned the new king of the West Coast, what his success means for his family, how Black Hippy was formed and what he learned from Jay Rock in the early part of his career.