By Amanda Wicks
It doesn’t matter that Kendrick Lamar and producer Rick Rubin had never met prior to conducting an interview together for an article in GQ Style this month. The two apparently had such a good time conversing that they’re translating their verbal chatter into something more melodic. According to the magazine, they began working in the studio after the interview.
Lamar last released the surprise drop Untitled Unmastered earlier this year, which were recordings made during his To Pimp a Butterly studio sessions. As the co-founder of Def Jam Records, Rubin has worked with some of hip-hop’s more socially conscious groups, including Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys.
In the piece, Rubin interviewed Lamar, asking him at one point about his single “Alright” and the creative struggle to write it. Lamar explained how it took some time. Pharrell had come up with the beat, and he felt immense pressure to make the words equal to what he felt existed within that rhythm. “So with Pharrell and Sam [Taylor] asking me—Am I gonna rock on it? When I’m gonna rock on it?—it put the pressure on me to challenge myself,” Lamar said. “To actually think and focus on something that could be a staple in hip-hop. And eventually, I came across it. Eventually, I found the right words. You know, it was a lot going on, and still, to this day, it’s a lot going on. And I wanted to approach it as more uplifting—but aggressive. Not playing the victim, but still having that We strong, you know?”
When asked if there was anything he would go back and change about his previous tracks, Lamar said, “It would be me saying, I want to go deeper. I shoulda went deeper.” It seems fair to say that with Rubin he’ll definitely be able to accomplish that. In fact, both were feeling such a strong creative vibe that Rubin offered to head into the studio at that moment with Lamar, and he happily accepted.
Check out the full conversation between Rubin and Lamar below.