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Kendrick Lamar covers GQ Style magazine for its first ever Holiday issue. In an interview with the great Rick Rubin, the Compton rapper discussed his creative process…which has reportedly led to the two of them hitting the studio together. 

One particularly poignant moment in the Q&A was when Rubin asked K. Dot about the creation of “Alright” from To Pimp A Butterfly.

Let’s talk about “Alright” for a second. It has become our generation’sprotest song.

Yeah, yeah.

When you wrote it, did you have that in mind? Did you think of it as a protest song?

No. You know what? I was sitting on that record for about six months. The beat’s Pharrell. And between my guy Sam Taylor and Pharrell, they would always be like, Did you do it? When you gonna do it? I knew it was a great record—I just was trying to find the space to approach it. I mean, the beat sounds fun, but there’s something else inside of them chords that Pharrell put down that feels like—it can be more of a statement rather than a tune. So with Pharrell and Sam asking me—Am I gonna rock on it? When I’m gonna rock on it?—it put the pressure on me to challenge myself. To actually think and focus on something that could be a staple in hip-hop. And eventually, I came across it. Eventually, I found the right words. You know, it was a lot going on, and still, to this day, it’s a lot going on. And I wanted to approach it as more uplifting—but aggressive. Not playing the victim, but still having that We strong, you know?

So you had the beat for six months, but you didn’t have any words?

I didn’t have any words. P knew that that record was special. Sam knew that the record was special. They probably knew it before I even had a clue. So I’m glad that they put that pressure on me to challenge myself. ‘Cause sometimes, as a writer, you can have that writer’s block. And when you like a sound or an instrumental, you want to approach it the right way. So you sit on it.

Check out the entire interview right here.

Check out photos from the shoot and the cover below and on the flip.

Watch footage of their chat below as well.

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