Interview: Kendrick Lamar (NPR & The New York Times)

Kendrick Lamar is receiving a lot of worldwide attention, especially since he is nominated for 11 awards at this year's GRAMMYs behind his critically acclaimed album—To Pimp A Butterfly. He has been doing a lot of press including interviews with NPR and The New York Times. Click the links to check out the revealing interviews.

Were you surprised that the Recording Academy responded so strongly to the scope of your vision, which wasn’t necessarily for these institutions?

I wasn’t surprised. The Grammys have taste. They’ve had taste for a long time. I’m just more excited that they recognize the time and effort put into the project — gathering all these musicians in one place for six months to a year at a time. It is truly appreciated that they can hear the different influences inside the record.

That’s the biggest accomplishment as far as the nominations: that people recognize it as an album. It’s not just a collection [of songs]. We pride ourselves on that. I wanted it to be that body of work again the same way I did with my first record. This time around, I wanted to make sure that not only were the lyrics appreciated or the beats, but the musicianship, as far as my writing skills, my arrangements. That’s me challenging myself.

-AO

Read Nicki Minaj's Honest Interview With The New York Times

Nicki Minaj is at the top of her game right now. There aren't many rappers right now who are as polarizing as she is. Nicki recently sat down with Vanessa Grigoriadis from The New York Times to discuss everything from her childhood to her recent issues with Miley Cyrus. Check out what Minaj had to say about Cyrus below, but follow the link to see what happened when Vanessa asked Nicki about the Meek Mill-Drake beef.

A month later, the episode was still bothering Minaj. Addressing Cyrus, she told me: ‘‘The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.’’

Check out the interview here.

-AO

Kendrick Lamar Interviews N.W.A.

Kendrick Lamar, via Billboard, got the opportunity to conduct a legendary interview. He sat down with the remaining members of N.W.A. (Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella sans Arabian Prince) and discussed many things, including the influence of their group, the new movie documenting their story, and more. It's an amazing interview and all hip-hop heads need to watch this. Check it out above.

-AO

Jonah Hill Interviews Action Bronson for Interview Magazine

In a piece for Interview Magazine, Jonah Hill sat down for an interview with Action Bronson. One would think, "What would they even have to talk about?" I know I did. But the interview was actually very entertaining and informative. Check out some excerpts below and the full interview here. Enjoy.

JONAH HILL: Bronsonmania, what’s going on?

BRONSON: Flawless from the neck up. Underneath that, I’m a little chunky.

HILL: So, three or four years ago, my buddy Dave Appleton, who is up on all hip-hop stuff before anyone knows about it, hips me to Bronson. This was before Fuck, That’s Delicious. He showed me some kind of YouTube show of you cooking with this very hip-hop dialect and extreme knowledge of the culinary arts. [Bronson laughs] I was already in, and then he started playing your music, and I was ... It was all I listened to for, like, three months straight. There’s a lot one can say about you to someone who has no knowledge of you: born in Queens; Albanian; former chef. And that’s how I pitch you to people who are stupid and don’t know who you are. But then I go, “You got to see him to believe him.” My work as a fan has been to just share the gospel with as many people as I could.

BRONSON: That’s fucking incredible right there. That’s quite an introduction.

HILL: And I followed everything: the Blue Chips tapes, everything. And I think people want to label something as something else they’ve already heard, so they go, “Oh, he sounds like Ghostface.”

BRONSON: Yup.

HILL: That’s so stupid because it’s like, “Clearly, he likes Ghostface-Wu-Tang is probably the greatest rap group of all time.” And it’s been beautiful to watch you embracing your own eccentricities and your own individuality on the new album. And the music is getting better because of it.

-AO

Nardwuar vs. Wale (Interview)

Nardwuar is usually a busy man during festival season and the past week at SXSW has been no different. He caught up with Wale to discuss some connections between Wale and other DC artists. As usual, it's a pretty interesting and informative interview. Check it out above and enjoy. Wale's The Album About Nothing drops on March 31st.

-AO

Kanye West (The Breakfast Club Interview)

The last time Kanye West joined The Breakfast Club for an interview, Charlemagne had crowned him "Donkey of the Day," an award people are not usually pleased to receive on the show and they had an interesting conversation about Kanye's struggles with breaking into the fashion industry. Kanye was charged up after that interview, which inevitably led to the infamous "YOU AIN'T GOT THE ANSWERS, SWAY!" interview he had with Sway later that day.

Well, now Kanye's back on The Breakfast Club and had a much less confrontational interview with DJ Envy, Charlemagne Tha God, and Angela Yee. He's coming off a great week where he debuted new music, clothes, and shoes all at New York Fashion Week, so he's naturally feeling pretty good. Kanye delivered a great interview full of many quotables, information, and more. The particular part that has people talking is when he threw some heavy shade at his ex-girlfriend Amber Rose. But, I'll let you check that out yourself. Enjoy.

-AO

Kendrick Lamar and BMX Rider Nigel Sylvester Interview Each Other

Noisey's Back & Forth series is pretty dope; it takes two celebrities and gives them the opportunity to interview each other. In this episode Kendrick Lamar links up with Nigel Sylvester, a BMX rider. They talk about their respective careers and setbacks they may have had getting to where they are. Enjoy.

-AO

J. Cole Performs "Be Free" on Letterman x J. Cole Interview with Angie Martinez

J. Cole appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and performed his very emotional song, "Be Free." He added a rap verse to the song so that was a very nice surprise. He put on a very touching performance; even Letterman seemed to appreciate what Cole did on stage. He's really on a roll as of late and I can't wait to see what he does next. Also, check out his interview with Angie Martinez. They have a great conversation about his Letterman performance, capitalism in today's society, J. Cole's top 5 rappers, and much more. You can view them both above. Go get his album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Enjoy.

-AO

Meet Dionne Osborne, Drake's Vocal Coach

It has been fairly obvious that Drake's voice has improved significantly over the past few years. From "Take Care" to "Hold On, We're Going Home" to "Heat Of the Moment," there is a noticeable change in his control, tone, range and more. I figured he must have gotten a vocal coach, but I didn't realize just how long he's had one. Meet Dionne Osborne. She has been Drake's vocal coach since before he went on his first tour. In an interview with Jia Tolentino from Jezebel, she talks about everything from how she met Drake to how she has changed his habits to help improve his singing. She seems like a pretty cool woman and it is very interesting to find out just how involved she's been in Drake's life over the years. You can check out the interview here and read a couple of my favorite excerpts from the interview below. Enjoy.

Jia: How did you deal with translating that to tour life? 

Dionne: The first tour, honey—I was horrified. This major rapper was onstage just screaming at Drake and I remember Drake turning around on stage to look at me, and I tried to hide it, but my face must have been horrified. Let me tell you, rappers are the most underserved artists in our industry, and they are grossing the biggest bucks! They desperately need coaching. They come out and it's like four of them, all yelling! All yelling the same thing. They're not even yelling different bars. They're not even layering themselves. They're not even yelling the right pitches. They're yelling the lead vocal up the octave and they sound like some random dude in a basement screaming along to their own songs. Like bad karaoke. Not like the artists they are.

It just sounds horrible. But then again, if you don't know what you're doing, you do need three other dudes to do it along with you. 

The year we did the Club Paradise tour, we had J. Cole, Waka Flocka, Meek Mill, French Montana, and it was just amazing and crazy. I think the other acts changed some, watching Drake. I loved watching the evolution of all of the artists that summer. It was dope.

What about after the show, when it's the after party? 

The tour itself is already so intense, you know: that first tour, Drake was doing a 60-minute set, we didn't even have an opener, he's sleeping on a tour bus, eating crappy food, and he was recording his album. But he's still got to go to the after parties. So, I went out with him the first two nights on tour to help him learn how to manage that on the road. These club owners were sending out thousand-dollar bottles of champagne. Drake's the biggest sweetheart, and he's cool with me just standing in the VIP area with him. Unfortunately, everyone thinks I'm his mom, not someone there as a professional. 

Hahaha. Oh my god. 

The first three years, everyone thought I was his mom. Sandy is a cute Jewish woman who looks nothing like me, but you've been in the club, you know—if I'm older than everybody, and I'm in the VIP, I must be Drake's mom! 

So he's standing there, his hand wrapped around the neck of this thousand-dollar champagne bottle. I pull it to me. I'm not a big drinker, I'm a total lightweight—I'm a daiquiri drinker, or margaritas, but champagne just knocks me out. So I don't know anything about it, don't know this one's so expensive. I'm like, "You don't think you're gonna drink this whole thing, do you honey? You can have a GLASS." He looks at me like I'm crazy! So I call over the management and tell them Drake needs water, and they bring me a whole case! There are more and more people crowding in here, I'm getting crowded to the back, so I start passing a bottle of water through the crowd. His bodyguards are all looking back at each other, like, "What is this?" And I'm just mouthing, "GIVE IT TO DRAKE." 

Finally it gets to Drake, and the bodyguard just points right at me. Literally, Drake's shoulders go down six inches. Totally resigned. But, he drank the water. He got it!

-AO

André 3000 (New York Times Interview)

André 3000 sat down with Jon Caramanica from the New York Times to discuss everything going on in his life. It’s an awesome interview as it’s always good to hear from André and he even hinted that there’s still a chance he’ll drop that solo album! But most importantly, it’s great to hear that he’s in a good place, mentally and otherwise. Enjoy.

-AO