Kendrick Lamar Gets Deeply Personal in New Interview. Says He Is Trayvon Martin.

President Barack Obama appeared on Marc Maron’s podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” and spoke on the enduring racism prevalent in this country and, in a breathtakingly powerful statement, said “It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n***** in public.” Throughout his tenure as president, race relations have risen to the forefront of national discourse, with the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin (and countless others who didn’t receive media attention) some of the most widely discussed news stories of the decade. Shortly after Martin’s death, he made an equally powerful statement as the one released today, sharing his sadness that “if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”


In a recent interview with the U.K.’s Guardian, Kendrick Lamar – arguably one of this generation’s most influential performers – drew a similar parallel, saying “I am Trayvon Martin.” Since the March release of To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar’s star power has grown exponentially, and while his lyrical abilities remain some of the most critically acclaimed of today’s era, it’s his politically and socially conscious content that has brought him into the discussion as one of this generation’s icons. His views on racism, his feelings about musical peers (particularly those who shy away from political involvement), his childhood, and his personal demons are facets of his inner self that he has shared openly through his music and which he generously expands upon in the Guardian feature.

The conversation turned to his potently affecting song “The Blacker the Berry” and its (what was assumed to be) direct reference to the Martin case. While the song was in response to Trayvon’s death, Kendrick pointed out that it was already within him from years of experience. “These are issues that if you come from that environment it’s inevitable to speak on…It’s already in your blood because I am Trayvon Martin, you know. I’m all of these kids,” he says. “It’s already implanted in your brain to come out your mouth as soon as you’ve seen it on the TV. I had that track way before that, from the beginning to the end, and the incident just snapped it for me.”

When asked about whether it’s ever a good idea for artists to remain quiet on certain issues and to refrain from using platforms and fame as soap boxes, he responds with “Where do you stop and say, ‘You know what? There’s actually some real shit going on out there that people can relate to more than any singalong I can bring to the table.’” However, he’s hesitant to criticize artists who choose not to be outspoken. “It’s just about balance. I don’t fault other artists. I don’t say this person should be doing that. As conscious as my music sounds, I would never point the finger because every day I make mistakes.” Check out the interview in full here.

Related: D’Angelo and Bobby Seale Look Backwards to Move Forwards in Race Relations (Video)