In a Vanity Fair cover story, Kendrick Lamar reacted to Kanye West‘s controversial comments about slavery and President Trump, enthused about his recently awarded Pulitzer Prize for Music and addressed a white fan’s usage of the “n-word” onstage during one of his shows.
Lamar mostly remained neutral in his comments about West, with whom he’s reportedly collaborated on 40 songs. “He has his own perspective, and he’s on this whole agree to disagree thing,” the emcee said. “And I would have this conversation with him personally if I want to.”
On his Pulitzer Prize win for Damn., Lamar said he was honored to be “recognized in an academic world” and thought the prize should have been awarded to a hip-hop artist “a long time ago.”
“It took a long time for people to embrace us – people outside of our community, our culture – to see this not just as vocal lyrics, but to see that this is really pain, this is really hurt, this is really true stories of our lives on wax,” he continued. “And now, for it to get the recognition that it deserves as a true art form, that’s not only great for myself, but it makes me feel good about hip-hop in general. Writers like Tupac, Jay-Z, Rakim, Eminem, Q-Tip, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop … It lets me know that people are actually listening further than I expected.”
“When I looked up at that man on the podium today [May 30th], I just had countless pictures in my mind of my mother putting me in suits to go to school,” he added. “Suit and tie, from the dollar store, from thrift shops, when I was a kid.”
Lamar also addressed the now-infamous moment when a white fan rapped the “n-word” uncensored onstage during his May performance at Alabama’s Hangout Festival. (The rapper warned “You gotta bleep one word” before the version of “m.A.A.d city.”)
“Let me put it to you in its simplest form,” Lamar told Vanity Fair, reflecting on the incident. “I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do. Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city. So many things – you can’t do that – whether it’s from afar or close up. So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.”