Not even Kendrick Lamar is above criticism. The Black Hippy MC may be getting a ton of love now, after releasing his critically acclaimed LP, To Pimp a Butterfly, but in the months leading up to the album's release there were a few boo birds.
The first criticisms came after Kendrick commented on the death of Michael Brown to Billboard magazine in January.
“What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.”
The quote drew reactions from a few, who accused K. Dot of exercising respectability politics and blaming African Americans for being victims of police brutality. Outspoken rapper Azealia Banks tweeted that Lamar's comment was the “dumbest sh-t I’ve ever heard a black man say.”
Then in February, Kendrick dropped "The Blacker the Berry," an angry call to arms to the oppressed. In the first two verses, Lamar blasts the racism and stereotypes that blacks face in America, all while continually calling himself "the biggest hypocrite of 2015." Then in the last verse he turns his scope.
"So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street/ When gang banging make me kill a n---a blacker than me, hypocrite," he spits with ferocity to end the song.
After the song released, Kendrick once again faced criticism.
So who was Kendrick speaking to in that last "Berry" verse? Who was he blaming?
"A few people think it's just talk and it's just rap; no, these are my experiences," he told MTV News on Tuesday when he sat to break down TPAB tracks at the W New York – Downtown. "When I say, 'Gang banging made me killer a n---a blacker than me,' this is my life that I'm talking about. I'm not saying you, you might not even be from the streets.
"I'm not speaking to the community, I'm not speaking of the community," he continued. "I am the community."
Lamar says that his music is therapy, and listening to Butterfly suggests that the good kid from the mad city needed a lot of it. On "u" -- the album's most emotional track -- Kendrick admits that he faced depression and thought of suicide after the murder of a close friend. After that murder, K. Dot fantasized of getting revenge, but instead he poured his angst into "The Blacker the Berry."
"When I say these lines, it's for myself, this is therapeutic for myself because I still feel that urge and I still feel that anger and that hatred for that man next door because I gotta get a call knowing that somebody around the corner done did this to my partner," he explained.
But Kendrick, doesn't have it in him right? After all, he's a top-selling, Grammy Award-winning rap star. There's no way he could do harm to another, or could he?
"I've only been in this industry for three, four years and I can't forget 20 years of me being in the city of Compton," he said revealing a darker side that fans don't see when watching his music videos or seeing him perform on stage.
"So when I say these things it's therapeutic for me," he said of how he copes with the rampant gang activity that plagues Compton. "It's making me remind that I need to respect this man because he's a black man, not because of the color that he's wearing."
Throughout the 30-plus-minute interview, Kendrick measured his words, making sure that each answer was clear and to the point. But, when talking about "The Blacker the Berry," his Billboard interview and the criticism that he has faced, his tone changed just a bit to convey an even greater level of seriousness.
"Know who I am first, understand where I come from before you make any remarks," he urged, "because I've been through a lot and I seen a lot. Where I come from -- I did a lot to tear down my own community. So, for you to not recognize that and see 100 percent flip, please learn it."
Watch our entire interview with Kendrick Lamar below: