kendrick lamar

Exclusive: Kendrick Lamar Sings Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”

In this exclusive Puerto Rico interview, Lamar also talks his Jesus costume for Halloween and sends love to his haters.

Over Halloween weekend, FADER traveled to Puerto Rico for BACARDÍ Triangle—a three-day "music travel adventure" for press, 'influencers' and contest winners sponsored by the rum company. The whole thing was probably inspired by Rihanna's 777 plane tour, which, for better or worse, I was also a passenger on.

Ahead of his Saturday headlining performance, which he called one of his first in "3 or 4 months," Kendrick Lamar spoke to FADER about his recent single, upcoming album, and Halloween costume. Then, he sang Taylor Swift.

"That's great," Lamar said, when asked if he was surprised at some listeners' lukewarm reaction to "i." "I would hate to stay stagnant. I would hate for you to say there's no growth. Your'e supposed to innovate and not only challenge yourself but challenge your listeners and wow your listeners, and let them catch on," he said. "Cause when you're an artist, nobody should dictate what you should do, you should just do it."

He declined to disclose details of his forthcoming LP, saying that listeners should "expect nothing" from it. "A lot of questions I get are about what I'm going to talk about next," he said. "When you're inspired, you really exclude all doubts of things, and I'm confident about that."

On Halloween, Lamar dressed as Jesus Christ. "If I want to idolize somebody, I'm not going to do a scary monster, I'm not gonna do another artist or a human being – I'm gonna idolize the master, who I feel is the master, and try to walk in his light," he explained. "It's hard, it's something I probably could never do, but I'm gonna try. Not just with the outfit but with everyday life. The outfit is just the imagery, but what's inside me will display longer."

He called his decision to play a liquor company-sponsored event an opportunity for travel. "I've never been in Puerto Rico," he said. "So that was a good trip. I just thought it was a cool thing to do. You're playing in front of people who enjoy your music—why not? I haven't done shows in a while, like three or four months, cause I've been so busy in the studio. So this is the perfect chance for me to get back into things." Did he have reservations about working for a liquor brand? "That definitely wasn't an issue. I've drunk in my past before, so I'm a little familiar with it," he said.

"Shout out to Taylor Swift," he said, when asked about the platinum-selling singer, who's a big and public fan of his. "You can't put great music in different genres. I enjoy great music outside of my own music all the time, so I definitely can see where she's coming from when she says that she listens to the record, and it's a great thing for her to acknowledge that and put that good energy out into the world like that."

And then, the highlight of my trip happened, when Lamar sang "Shake It Off."

"Yeah, I ain't playin," he boasted after his solo. "I say what I mean and I mean what I say."

Lead image: Angelo Merendino / Getty Images

Exclusive: Kendrick Lamar Sings Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”