Kendrick Lamar is the cover star of Vanity Fair's August 2018 issue. In his cover story, the Compton rapper discusses winning the Pulitzer Prize for Music, his former tour mate Kanye West's support of Donald Trump, and the controversy that erupted after he shut down a white fan who rapped the "n" word in his music after Lamar invited her to perform with him onstage.
The incident occurred during Lamar's performance of his song "m.A.A.d city" at Alabama’s Hangout Festival in May. After the female fan didn't self-censor herself when the "n" word came up in the song, Lamar stopped the music and asked her to "bleep" the word.
“Let me put it to you in its simplest form," Lamar told Vanity Fair. "I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do. Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city. So many things—’you can’t do that’—whether it’s from afar or close up. So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.”
Winning the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music, Lamar said, gave him a new appreciation for hip-hop's reach:
"[When I heard I got it], I thought, to be recognized in an academic world... whoa, this thing really can take me above and beyond. It’s one of those things that should have happened with hip-hop a long time ago. It took a long time for people to embrace us—people outside of our community, our culture—to see this not just as vocal lyrics, but to see that this is really pain, this is really hurt, this is really true stories of our lives on wax. And now, for it to get the recognition that it deserves as a true art form, that’s not only great for myself, but it makes me feel good about hip-hop in general. Writers like Tupac, Jay Z, Rakim, Eminem, Q-Tip, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop.... It lets me know that people are actually listening further than I expected. When I looked up at that man on the podium today [May 30], I just had countless pictures in my mind of my mother putting me in suits to go to school. Suit and tie, from the dollar store, from thrift shops, when I was a kid."
When asked about Kanye West's support of President Donald Trump, Lamar demurred slightly. “[Kanye] 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,” Lamar said, adding that he doesn't discuss politics because “I just get too frustrated.”