Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith are Billboard’s new cover stars, and in the issue, they discuss how TDE is as much a brotherhood as it is a business. The two give some insight into the label’s humble beginnings, with Kendrick saying he was “too hungry” as a young MC.
That hunger eventually landed him on the road with The Game and Top Dawg labelmate Jay Rock in 2006, and Kendrick revealed that, prior to that tour, he’d never been to a concert before.
“I didn’t even get to go to a show,” he said. “Back then, we didn’t have the money for it.”
Now, he said, live shows allow him to experience the feelings he missed, and then some. “Me being onstage is me fulfilling two different things, performing and getting to enjoy it like the people enjoying it,” he said.
Along with that revelation, Kendrick also disclosed that he re-recorded his groundbreaking 2012 album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City four times before sharing it with the world.
“We did good kid about three, four times before the world got to it. ... New songs, new everything. I wanted to tell that story, but I had to execute it. My whole thing is about execution. The songs can be great, the hooks can be great, but if it’s not executed well, then it’s not a great album.”
It’s that kind of work ethic that perfectly explains why TDE is at the top of the hip-hop world today... and why Kendrick may be the greatest rapper alive.