Kendrick Lamar addresses why it takes him “so long” to record albums

"I spend the whole year just thinking about how I’m gonna execute a new sound"

Kendrick Lamar has spoken about the substantial gaps between his solo album releases, explaining his reasoning for why it takes him “so long” to follow up a project.

The Compton rapper last released a studio album in April 2017 with ‘DAMN.’, which followed over two years on from his 2015 album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ (with the compilation ‘Untitled Unmastered’ released in between). That record arrived nearly two-and-a-half years after his 2012 breakthrough LP ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’.

Speaking in a new interview with his latest protégé Baby Keem for i-D, Lamar reflected on why there are such noticeable gaps between his album releases.


After Keem noted that his mixtape ‘Die for My Bitch’ gave him “a chance to play with my sounds and open up the lane to grow in confidence”, Lamar said that he understood that approach, adding: “That’s what will take me so long to do albums.”

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar (Picture: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

“I spend the whole year just thinking about how I’m gonna execute a new sound, I can’t do the same thing over and over,” he said. “I need something to get me excited. I see you get frustrated sometimes because you want some new shit.”

Lamar also reflected on “the sophomore jinx” of ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’, which he said was written “for that year and for that time. I was in a different space in my life”.

“I already knew off the top I can’t make ‘Good Kid M.A.A.D City Part Two’,” he said of the follow-up. “The second I’m making that, it’s corny bro. That takes the feeling away from the first. I need that motherfucker to live in its own world. Then boom: ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’. Some people love it to death, some people hate it.”

Asked by Keem if it was important for Lamar to “surprise” himself with each new project, the rapper replied: “That was it. ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ did that for me. I had an idea in my head of how I wanted it to sound, built with jazz and blues and hip-hop. But it was more ‘how am I gonna execute that?’”


Lamar, who had been set to headline Glastonbury this year, had been expected to drop new music in 2020 and was spotted apparently shooting a music video last month.

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