Kendrick Lamar has often talked about the importance of 2Pac, both musically and culturally, as well as the late rapper’s direct influence on him
there’s that story that the Compton rapper told a few years back about a vision he had, while half-asleep, of ‘Pac coming to him and saying, “Keep doing what you doing; don’t let my music die.”
On To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar interacts with ‘Pac again. And this time on the outro to the album’s last track, “Mortal Man,” Kendrick interviews 2Pac, asking him questions about everything from how to deal with success to what is in store for his generation.
Read the interviews below
“I remember you was conflicted
Misusing your influence
Sometimes I did the same
Abusing my power, full of resentment
Resentment that turned into a deep depression
Found myself screaming in the hotel room
I didn’t wanna self destruct
The evils of Lucy was all around me
So I went running for answers
Until I came home
But that didn’t stop survivor’s guilt
Going back and forth trying to convince myself the stripes I earned
Or maybe how A-1 my foundation was
But while my loved ones was fighting the continuous war back in the city, I was entering a new one
A war that was based on apartheid and discrimination
Made me wanna go back to the city and tell the homies what I learned
The word was respect
Just because you wore a different gang colour than mine’s
Doesn’t mean I can’t respect you as a black man
Forgetting all the pain and hurt we caused each other in these streets
If I respect you, we unify and stop the enemy from killing us
But I don’t know, I’m no mortal man, maybe I’m just another nigga”
Shit and that’s all I wrote
I was gonna call it Another Nigga but, it ain’t really a poem, I just felt like it’s something you probably could relate to. Other than that, now that I finally got a chance to holla at you, I always wanted to ask you about a certain situa–, about a metaphor actually, you spoke on the ground. What you mean ‘bout that, what the ground represent?
The ground is gonna open up and swallow the evil
That’s how I see it, my word is bond. I see–and the ground is the symbol for the poor people, the poor people is gonna open up this whole world and swallow up the rich people. Cause the rich people gonna be so fat, they gonna be so appetising, you know what I’m saying, wealthy, appetising. The poor gonna be so poor and hungry, you know what I’m saying it’s gonna be like… there might be some cannibalism out this mutha, they might eat the rich
Aight so let me ask you this then, do you see yourself as somebody that’s rich or somebody that made the best of their own opportunities?
I see myself as a natural born hustler, a true hustler in every sense of the word. I took nothin’, I took the opportunities, I worked at the most menial and degrading job and built myself up so I could get it to where I owned it. I went from having somebody manage me to me hiring the person that works my management company. I changed everything I realised my destiny in a matter of five years you know what I’m saying I made myself a millionaire. I made millions for a lot of people now it’s time to make millions for myself, you know what I’m saying. I made millions for the record companies, I made millions for these movie companies, now I make millions for us
And through your different avenues of success, how would you say you managed to keep a level of sanity?
By my faith in God, by my faith in the game, and by my faith in “all good things come to those that stay true.” You know what I’m saying, and it was happening to me for a reason, you know what I’m saying, I was noticing, shit, I was punching the right buttons and it was happening. So it’s no problem, you know I mean it’s a problem but I’m not finna let them know. I’m finna go straight through
Would you consider yourself a fighter at heart or somebody that only reacts when they back is against the wall?
Shit, I like to think that at every opportunity I’ve ever been threatened with resistance, it’s been met with resistance. And not only me but it goes down my family tree. You know what I’m saying, it’s in my veins to fight back
Aight well, how long you think it take before niggas be like, we fighting a war, I’m fighting a war I can’t win and I wanna lay it all down
In this country a black man only have like 5 years we can exhibit maximum strength, and that’s right now while you a teenager, while you still strong or while you still wanna lift weights, while you still wanna shoot back. Cause once you turn 30 it’s like they take the heart and soul out of a man, out of a black man in this country. And you don’t wanna fight no more. And if you don’t believe me you can look around, you don’t see no loud mouth 30-year old muthafuckas
That’s crazy, because me being one of your offspring of the legacy you left behind I can truly tell you that there’s nothing but turmoil goin’ on so I wanted to ask you what you think is the future for me and my generation today?
I think that niggas is tired of grabbin’ shit out the stores and next time it’s a riot there’s gonna be, like, uh, bloodshed for real. I don’t think America know that. I think American think we was just playing and it’s gonna be some more playing but it ain’t gonna be no playing. It’s gonna be murder, you know what I’m saying, it’s gonna be like Nat Turner, 1831, up in this muthafucka. You know what I’m saying, it’s gonna happen
That’s crazy man. In my opinion, only hope that we kinda have left is music and vibrations, lotta people don’t understand how important it is. Sometimes I be like, get behind a mic and I don’t know what type of energy I’mma push out, or where it comes from. Trip me out sometimes
Because the spirits, we ain’t even really rappin’, we just letting our dead homies tell stories for us
I wanted to read one last thing to you. It’s actually something a good friend had wrote describing my world. It says:
“The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it
Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it, in order to protect itself from this mad city
While consuming its environment the caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive
One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him, but praises the butterfly
The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness, and the beauty within the caterpillar
But having a harsh outlook on life the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak and figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits
Already surrounded by this mad city the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him
He can no longer see past his own thoughts
When trapped inside these walls certain ideas take roots, such as going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city
Wings begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations that the caterpillar never considered, ending the internal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different, they are one and the same.”
What’s your perspective on that?
NB: The excerpts of 2Pac’s conversation with Kendrick were taken from a 1994 interview with the Swedish radio show P3 Soul, hosted by Mats Nileskär.