Interview: Kendrick Lamar Tells Dave Chappelle, “When I Look At Comedy, At Richard Pryor, At You…It’s All Self-Expression”

When you think about Dave Chappelle and Kendrick Lamar you can’t help but compare the two despite having different backgrounds. Both men have dominated in their crafts on stage. In a now interview with Interview Magazine; Chappelle and Lamar had a moment to catch up and discuss their creative processes. To start things off Dave wanted to know how Lamar deals with censoring in light of comedy being criticized. When greats meet up.

Read an excerpt of their talk below.

DAVE CHAPPELLE: Kendrick.

KENDRICK LAMAR: Dave. What’s going on, brother?

CHAPPELLE: The last time I saw you was in Australia with J. Cole—you had just performed with Eminem. A lot’s happened since then.

LAMAR: Definitely. How you been?

CHAPPELLE: I’ve been great. I want to start by asking you about a recent scandal in the comedy world: Kathy Griffin and the picture of her holding Donald Trump’s decapitated head. My question for you is not about politics, but about the content in your work. In comedy right now, the issue is, “When does a comedian go too far?” And I imagine in hip-hop that’s been a long-standing debate—even when I was coming up, when Bill Clinton went after Sister Souljah. When you write, how much do you think about the repercussions of anything you might say?

LAMAR: When I look at comedy—at Richard Pryor, at you—it’s all self-expression. I apply that same method to my music. I came up listening to N.W.A and Snoop. Like them, it’s in me to express how I feel. You might like it or you might not, but I take that stand.

CHAPPELLE: I have this thing when I write jokes; I call it my unseen audience. I’ll think of certain people when I’m writing certain types of jokes. For instance: “What would my mother say?” Who do you think about when you write? Are you thinking about the streets? A lot of your work is openly spiritual and contemplative.

LAMAR: I really focus on what my fans will take from it, people living their day-to-day lives. At the end of the day, the music isn’t for me; it’s for people who are going through their struggles and want to relate to someone who feels the same way they do. I’ve got to take Mom out of the equation. I’ve got to go all-in, expressing myself, right there in the moment.

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