Take A Look At Kendrick Lamar & High-Stakes Compton From The Inside (Video)

Last night (February 15), Kendrick Lamar closed his Grammy performance with an image of the Africa continent with the words “Compton” upon it. The parallels between the Motherland and Hub City may be strong to the 28 year-old. Both are complicated places built around Black (and Brown) Pride, cultural diversity, and rich social traditions.

K-Dot and his friends granted Vice/Noisey access to “Bompton,” a part of the city largely controlled by factions of the Blood/Piru gang. There, in a backyard of a Blood gathering—Kendrick (who does not identify with any particular gang) spoke to Zach Goldbaum about the city, and giving outsiders a human understanding of just how privileged they may be.

“[Coming] from Compton, I could have easily come out and said, ‘I did this. I did that. I done killed a whole bunch’a niggas. I done burned…’ just given off of the fact of where I’m from. That ain’t me; I’d rather talk about my reality,” said a very focused Kendrick Lamar. In four albums and countless appearances, the TDE artist has often showed a side of the C-P-T different than his peers. “I’d rather talk about somethin’ a lil’ more deeper than that—the reasons, and the problems, and the solutions behind it. So when you hear these stories in good kid, m.A.A.d city, when you hear these stories in To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s a little bit deeper than just the music. Cats out here are really trying to do something and trying to spark the idea of positivity in the community. Let me tell my story, let me tell other stories out here [from people] that want to do something different—but can’t, because you’re in an environment where you’ve got to just adapt.” Kendrick stated that what he—and many of his peers seek is recognition. “And what happens is, it invites people in to get another perspective. It brings a whole ‘nother side of the world to Compton, to this backyard right here to say, ‘Okay, these are actually people.'”

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The Noisey cameras go from K-Dot’s backyard Westside party to Centennial High School. The alma mater of Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar, cameras interview the latter’s former teachers. There, the faculty describe the backgrounds and social pressures of the students. In the course of interviews, the staff shows awareness that the 1,200-plus student school is erected in a Blood-controlled neighborhood. One particular high school teacher recalls Kendrick Duckworth as being “an average student.” Today, that graduate is revealed to be a donor to the school’s music program—which viewers can hear. “That was nothin’ I wanted to put out there in the papers and whatnot, I just wanted to do that,” said the artist when pressed about the gesture.

Cameras also follow one of Kendrick’s closest friends, Lil L. The 20-year friends met in third grade. An admitted Piru, L explains his recent stay in county jail. He also takes the documentary film crew through some back-allies of Compton, to see some graffiti landmarks of the local Blood gangs. Gaining greater understanding of the community from L, Zach asks Kendrick Lamar about his lyrics in 2014’s YG song “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin).”

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Questioned about those lyrics that mention multiple slain friends from gang violence, Kendrick Lamar reacted, “I grew up with Chad’s brother. He [was] actually like my little brother. To have to hear about his passing just messes you up—all the way.”

Stay tuned for more volumes of the Vice special, “Bompton.”

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