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Kendrick Lamar Explains Why He’s the ‘Chosen One’ in XXL Cover Story

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is at the top of his game right now. With 11 Grammy nominations and his critically acclaimed album, To Pimp a Butterfly, appearing at the top of every critics’ year-end list, K.Dot is the man. So it’s fitting that he graces the cover of XXL magazine’s Winter 2015 issue.

In an expansive interview, the Compton rhymer discusses how he navigates fame and being a role model to a new generation of hip-hop fans.

“It’s funny because I ask other artists about their experience with success,” he tells the magazine. “I wanna know what happened to them. Did you feel how I feel? When did everything change for you? When did you start noticing the ways you were acting differently? Or when the people around you changed how they treated you? Or just, how did your world change?”

“For me, the whole complete world changed within six months of good kid, m.A.A.d. city coming out,” he continued. “It wasn’t about the money change, although, that did happen, but it was like I stared seeing who I really was during that first run and learned more on the second. Either you notice who you are who are or what you ain’t pretty fast when you get fame.”

The 28-year-old rapper also reflected on the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner, which of course, inspired his polarizing track, “Alright.”

“The past few years or so has been very politically charged and controversial. From Trayvon Martin, to Eric Garner to Michael Brown and issues of police brutality and racism and for so many other reasons,” said Lamar. “All of it has really struck a nerve with me because when you experience things like that personally and you know the type of hardships and pain that it brings first-hand, it builds a certain rage in you.”

“It brings back memories of when I’m 16 and the police come kicking the door in,” he continued. “They don’t care that I’m a little boy and they stumped me in my back two times and they dragged me out the house and have us all handcuffed. It brings back those memories. Memories of losing loved ones. It brings back some of the most painful memories and deepest thoughts of real life situations that I didn’t even want to address on good kid. Or wasn’t ready to. Rage is the perfect word for it.”

Finally, Lamar talks about his responsibility to be a role model to the youth.

“I know I’m chosen. I know I’m a favorite,” he said. “I know in my heart there’s a whole other energy and leadership side of me that I have probably run from my whole life. How much power do I want? How much can I handle? That’s the question I keep asking myself. ’Cause when you are a voice for the youth, nothing can stop you. The youth is what changes things. Can I lead that? Should I? I get confused because people are championing me to be that vocal point and it’s a challenge for me to be that because I have some fear of that type of power.”

XXL magazine’s Winter 2015 issue, featuring “the Chosen One” Kendrick Lamar on the cover, will arrive on newsstands on Dec. 22.

Check out photos from the cover shoot and a behind-the-scenes video below.

@kendricklamar shot for @XXL by @travis_shinn

A photo posted by XXL (@xxl) on

@kendricklamar XXL's Winter 2015 issue – shot by @travis_shinn

A photo posted by XXL (@xxl) on

#tupac #kendricklamar

A photo posted by Vanessa Satten (@vsatten) on

Watch the Behind of the Scenes of Kendrick Lamar’s XXL Winter 2015 Cover Shoot

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