Brooklyn, NY – Anyone who’s a fan of Kendrick Lamar’s music and has spent extensive time with his catalog — from Section .80 to DAMN. — knows his past was riddled with violence.

Growing up in Compton, California, it was just a daily part of his life. In a new interview with Vanity Fair, K. Dot opens up about his upbringing and reveals the moment he realized he was destined for another path. When asked about a line on good kid, m.A.A.d city that implies he put a bullet in someone as a teenager, he admits to participating in the madness.

“I’ll put it this way: I’ve seen my own blood shed, and I’ve been the cause of other people shedding their blood as well,” he said. “There was a split second when I felt what my homeboys were feeling—like I don’t give a fuck anymore — and that’s when I knew something else had to happen.”

From there, Lamar became a devout Christian and was baptized twice — once at 16 and again in his 20s.

With all of Lamar’s success and accolades (he recently won the 2018 BET Award for Best Male Hip Hop Artist), he moves differently these days but maintains his integrity. Although he relocated from Compton to the picturesque shores of Malibu, he’s able to juggle fame and a strong work ethic because of those challenging early years.

“You can get put in an environment that can bring down your integrity and your fight,” he said. “What gives me an advantage in my upbringing is the duality of seeing one of the most beautiful moments of me being 6 years old, to the most tragic moment of being 13 or 14, and make that connection so the person [listening] can really see the conflict.

“It was a mindfuck, for sure. I would wake up one morning, and it would be cartoons and cereal and walking back from school. And at 4 p.m., we’d be having a house party ‘til 11 p.m. … and people [were] shooting each other outside the door. That was my lifestyle. And it’s not only mine; it’s so many other individuals. And I wanted to tell that story.”

lsewhere in the interview, he describes Pharrell Williams as “the Bob Dylan, the Miles Davis of our time” and briefly touches on Kanye West’s “slavery is a choice” comment.

“He has his own perspective, and he’s on this whole agree to disagree thing, and I would have this conversation with him personally if I want to.”

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