Kendrick Lamar Explains How DAMN. Goes Way Deeper Than Donald Trump Reactions

‘What’s going on now — we’re not focusing on him’

Kendrick Lamar's new interview with Zane Lowe is mind-blowing on multiple levels. They discuss the familial connections he explores on DAMN., his latest album, and his admiration for one of the few famous names he collaborated with, Rihanna. ("I love everything about her." Same, tbh.)

He also draws a line between DAMN. and the subject of Donald Trump that's a little surprising, in that the latest effort from the rapper is absolutely inspired by current events — but DAMN. doesn't take the president to task so much as focus on how to cope with his administration.

Lamar connects the experiences he unpacks on both To Pimp a Butterfly, his critically adored 2015 album, and DAMN. to an understanding broader than his own. Both Butterfly and DAMN. are brilliant works with social messages that feel oh-so-relevant in these tumultuous times, but DAMN. isn't just a reaction to what's going on around us: It's an examination into why we're reacting to what's going on around us, and how we can process that.

"What I do is not for Kendrick Lamar, man," he tells Lowe. "The best way for me to put it, To Pimp a Butterfly would be the idea of the thought of changing the world and how we work and approach things. DAMN. would be the idea, 'I can’t change the world until I change myself.' When you listen to records like 'PRIDE,' 'HUMBLE,' 'LUST,' 'LOVE' — these are all just human emotions and me looking in the mirror and coming to grips with them … I would hope the listener can take heed and grab something from both of them, two ideas, and carry out their day to the best potential of themselves they see."

How does that take shape with 45 in charge? Lamar is practicing what he preaches. "I wanted more self-evaluation and discipline because — what’s going on now — we're not focusing on him. What's going on now: We focusing on self."