Recently T Magazine published a feature that involved speaking with “three iconic musicians on artistic creation — and its importance now.” Kendrick Lamar was one of the interviewees — along with Tom Waits and Beck — and in the course of the interview, he happened to reveal some thematic details of an upcoming album. The feature itself sought to address the present immediacy of songwriting, and Lamar said that his next album is “very urgent,” returning his focus to his community, perhaps more along the lines of the place-specific, largely autobiographic good kid, m.A.A.d city than the sweepingly brilliant social commentary of To Pimp a Butterfly. “When I say ‘my community,'” Lamar clarified, “I’m talking about Compton, Long Beach, L.A., the Bay Area, San Francisco, Oakland.”
I think now, how wayward things have gone within the past few months, my focus is ultimately going back to my community and the other communities around the world where they’re doing the groundwork. To Pimp a Butterfly was addressing the problem. I’m in a space now where I’m not addressing the problem anymore. We’re in a time where we exclude one major component out of this whole thing called life: God. Nobody speaks on it because it’s almost in conflict with what’s going on in the world when you talk about politics and government and the system.
Given that America has descended further into Christian theocratic — and thereby Islamophobic and anti-Semitic — territory under the current administration, presumably Lamar was referring to God as something personal or culturally specific, since on a macro scale there’s certainly been far too much broad inclusion of God. The interviewer asked Lamar how he’s going to set his urgency to sound on this album; Lamar responded with this metaphoric discussion of hypothetical parenthood:
This is what goes on in my mind as a writer. One day, I may have a little girl. And it’s a girl in particular… She’s gonna grow up. She’s gonna be a child I adore, I’m gonna always love her, but she’s gonna reach that one point where she’s gonna start experiencing things. And she’s gonna say things or do things that you may not condone, but it’s the reality of it and you know she was always gonna get to that place. And it’s disturbing. But you have to accept it. You have to accept it and you have to have your own solutions to figure out how to handle the action and take action for it. When I say ‘the little girl,’ it’s the analogy of accepting the moment when she grows up. We love women, we enjoy their company. At one point in time I may have a little girl who grows up and tells me about her engagements with a male figure — things that most men don’t want to hear. Learning to accept it, and not run away from it, that’s how I want this album to feel.