Kendrick Lamar spoke with Variety recently and talked about his early days of trying to get a record deal.
According to the Cali rapper, he didn’t find his true voice until he dropped his original K Dot moniker and stopped trying to make hit records.
"Early, early on, I really wanted to be signed,” he explained. “And that was a mistake, because it pushes you two steps backwards when you have this concept of ‘OK, I’ve got to make these three [radio] songs in order to get out into the world and be heard.’ So there were two or three years where I wanted to be signed so badly that I’m making these same two or three repetitive demo kinds of records, and I’m hindering my growth. The world could have got Kendrick Lamar two or three years earlier if I’d stuck to the script and continued to develop.”
In another part of the interview, Kendrick was asked to define what a hit record is, and he used his 2015 cut "Alright" to explain.
“You might not have heard it on the radio all day, but you’re seeing it in the streets, you’re seeing it on the news and you’re seeing it in communities and people felt it … Nobody can really justify which one it is, because I’ve heard hundreds of records from inside the neighborhood that were quote-unquote ‘hit records’ and never stood a day outside the community.”
What do you consider a hit record? Does it all have to do with radio plays and SoundCloud numbers?
[Related: Kendrick Lamar reveals advice Dr. Dre gave him early on.]