Kendrick Lamar Witnessed His First Murder When He Was 5 Years Old (Audio)

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Kendrick Lamar recently spoke, at length, with NPR. While fans of Kendrick likely have heard bits and pieces of a number of the subjects Kendrick addressed in the interview, he reflected on a number of deeply personal topics in greater detail than he often does, outside of his most introspective songs.

Putting aside the ominous tone of the interviewer and his disclaimers about offensive language, he jumps right in, asking Kendrick about seeing his first murder when he was 5 years old. Kendrick confirms that was the case, painting a vivid picture of the experience through the eyes of a child. In the moment, he recalled saying to himself “this is something that maybe I have to get used to.”

Later in the conversation, Kendrick spoke about the fact that he is still losing people with whom he was close in his life. He talks about the guilt of being out on tour and seeing the world, while those at home are being killed. When pressed, he details the story of Chad Keating, the younger brother of a close friend of his. Kendrick looked out for Chad when his brother was incarcerated, and even though Chad was on the right path, he got caught up in the wrong place in the wrong time and was shot and killed.

Toward the end of the conversation, Kendrick addressed the controversy from earlier in the year regarding some of the lyrics in his song “The Blacker The Berry.” The song takes a hard look at racism and violence against Blacks, but also looks inward at the dynamic of black on black crime. Critics saw the song as blaming the Black community for factors caused in large part by institutionalized racism. Kendrick replies he was not pointing a finger at his community, he was pointing a finger at himself, saying “I don’t talk about things unless I’ve lived them, and I’ve hurt people in my life.” He also says when he calls himself a “hypocrite” in the song, the message is “I can’t change the world until I change myself.”

Kendrick and the rest of his Top Dog Entertainment family continue to give back to their community. Just recently, they held their annual Christmas celebration in Watts, CA, where they gave out toys to kids in the neighborhood and performed a free concert. Some video highlights from the event are below.

Related: Kendrick Lamar Pens A Letter Expressing Why He Feels Chosen To Lead