The rapper recently spoke with BBC Radio 6 about his childhood, revealing many personal details. We decided to break down some of his answers to give you a better glimpse into what K. Dot was like as a young one.
As a kid, Kendrick Lamar stayed to himself.Andres Tardio/MTV
"What was I like as a kid? To myself, sometimes. Always looking at adults and trying to figure them out. As well as youthful and into sports. But a lot of my memories come from trying to figure out what adults were doing."
School was fun for young K. Dizzle.Getty Images
"I remember always being into English and writing. I had a lot of friends. Even when I wasn’t trying to make friends, they were drawn to me. Maybe because I stayed to myself... School was pretty fun for me."
He didn't let his grades slip.Getty Images
"I was decent…When I wanted to be. I wasn't one of them kids that tried to maneuver with the other kids just because of the coolness of it. I knew when it was time to press that button to go and I needed to pass that grade."
He loved cartoons...because, well, who doesn't?
"I liked a lot of cartoons. When I say, ‘stayed to myself,’ it was really me watching cartoons and writing and watching movies and trying to figure out how things worked."
One of his heroes was an NBA legend.
"Michael Jordan. I felt like Michael Jordan could do any and everything. That’s what prompted me -- without him even being involved in music -- that’s what prompted me to do music and to want to be the best at it."
If you love K. Dot's rhymes, thank one of his teachers.XXL
“It was one particular homework assignment I didn’t do when I was home. I actually said to myself, 'When I get to school, I’ma try to write it as fast as possible.' And I did it. I had like 10 minutes to turn it in. I wrote it. I turned it in.
"Later that day, he was passing out the grades and I'm looking at all my friends. They're like, 'Man, I got a D. I got a C. Man, I failed this paperwork.' I look at mine and it's an A.
"From that moment on, I knew I had a gift to actually put words together and draw my own inspirations out on a piece of paper. That was the beginning when I started writing actual lyrics."
Kendrick patterned raps after some hip-hop greats.Getty Images
"My father bought me this stereo and I can remember playing all my favorite artists' albums and writing raps over their actual raps. So, a lot of times I may sound like Snoop Dogg, or Jay Z or DMX until I was able to craft my own signature style."
And Compton was full of surprises.Getty Images
"The vibe of the place? If there's one word to describe it, it'd probably be unpredictable. When you grow up in a hostile environment, you become somewhat numb to it. So, a lot of the positive things, it was kind of small like playing basketball in the park, it actually stood out to us. You get used to the violence after a while so playing basketball or doing backflips stood out.
"So I can actually tell you I had a great time being a kid and a teenager because I was still involved, my parents kept me involved in these activities, even though on the outskirts, these things was going on. One day, I can be riding down the block, with my friends, poppin' wheelies. The next day, it could be gunfire. That's how it teeter-totters. Unpredictable."
Here's the full K. Dot interview. Enjoy.
As you can tell, Kendrick was an interesting kid, and his childhood is obviously the source of a lot of inspiration. That's probably why he likes to revisit those days often. "I always try to go back to how I used to feel when I was 7 years old or 6 years old," he added. "For me, it was like 'The Wonder Years.' I always try to go back to them days."
And thankfully for us, it seems that also inspires some incredible music.