TDE boss on Kendrick Lamar leaving label: “It’s time to move on and try new things”

The rapper announced last year that he was in the process of putting together his final album for the west coast label

Top Dawg Entertainment president Punch has opened up about Kendrick Lamar leaving the iconic west coast record label.

Last August, the rapper announced he was in the process of putting together his final album for TDE, posting an image on social media of a desktop folder labelled “nu thoughts” with a link to a message on his website.

“As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years. The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood,” he wrote. “May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.”

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He added: “There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown.”

Now, speaking in a new interview, Punch has discussed Kendrick’s impending departure, saying he doesn’t think it makes sense for him to be signed under somebody else anymore.

“I don’t even know if I would describe it that way as ready to leave, as more so ready to build his own thing,” Punch told Mic. “That’s a grown man right now. We watched him grow from a teenager up into an established grown man, a businessman, and one of the greatest artists of all time. So how long do you actually be signed up under somebody? It’s been almost 20 years. So it’s time to move on and try new things and venture out.”

“He’s doing a great job developing Baby Keem. It’s always been there, but now it’s just time and space where he can actually do it,” he continued. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch because that’s something that started with what we built in the beginning. To see it blossom, it’s a full-circle moment.”

Punch
Punch. CREDIT: Facebook/Punch TDE

Elsewhere in the interview, Punch said he wishes he could have pushed the idea of putting together a Black Hippy album – the supergroup comprised of TDE rappers Kendrick, ScHoolBoy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock – a little more.

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“We definitely wanted to do a Black Hippy album,” he explained. “But it was such a learning experience for us, everything was new. The timing never really panned out. When one guy would be recording his album, another guy would be on tour. Everybody was never in the same timeframe. So we didn’t want to hold back; we wanted to keep going and just push further into their individual careers.

“In hindsight, I wish I would’ve pushed the Black Hippy album more. That was always my goal, personally. You would have to ask everybody individually to see if that’s what their goal was.”

Punch is currently promoting his new collective A Room Full of Mirrors, which features Nick Grant, DayLyt, Earlee Riser, Billymarie, Lyric Michelle, Ichiban Don, Hari and Jrias Law. Their visual EP ‘Money Bags’ arrived in December.

Following last year’s news that Kendrick was preparing his final album for TDE, the label’s CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith expressed his support for the label.

“With this being Dot’s last album on TDE, this is more of a VICTORY LAP, a celebration,” Top wrote on Instagram at the time. “I know he [Lamar] will be successful in whatever it is he decides to do and will have our FULL support.”

Meanwhile, Kendrick has shared details of a new summer headline show in Milan, Italy, this summer, announced following his performance at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show.

The rapper has not announced any further tour dates at the time of writing. He had been booked to headline Glastonbury in 2020, but that year’s festival was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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