It’s been a huge year for Kendrick Lamar. With the widely successful release of his third studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly, and countless notable collaborations, it’s very clear to see the impact the Compton artist has had on the music scene.
The album sold over 750,000 copies in the United States and received praise from critics for its nostalgic musical stylings and deep cultural examination. And now it may end up getting the recognition it deserves as the 2016 Grammy Awards approach. Set to take place on Feb. 15, Lamar will attend the ceremony with a whopping 11 nominations to look forward to, which is only one off from Michael Jackson’s 1984 record for most nominations in one night.
“I’m still soaking that all in,” Lamar tells The New York Times in an interview. “Michael will forever be the greatest. I’m glad it was at 11. I would never want to even think about putting myself on the same level as Michael, simply because I haven’t put in the work that he did. It couldn’t be a better number.”
His nominations include album of the year and song of the year among many others, and the 28-year-old is hoping to win them all for the hip-hop community, saying “We deserve that. Period. […] It’s not only a statement for myself, but it’s a statement for the culture. They’re all important, because of the foundation the forefathers laid before me. Nas didn’t get a chance to be in that position. [Tupac]. So to be acknowledged and to actually win, it’s for all of them.”
Lamar’s rise to fame has become somewhat of a pillar in both the hip-hop and African American community. While there’s no doubt that the artist is going to win at least a couple awards at the upcoming award ceremony, even if he walks home with nothing he’ll be doing it with tons of support on his back.
“Perfect example: going out to the [Compton Christmas Parade, where he served as grand marshal] and seeing these kids’ eyes light up. I’m looking at them like, man, I was one of y’all before. The more I get to see it visually and hear their words, the more it helps me aspire to inspire. Every time I think about that, it gets me out of my own selfish ways. It’s not just for me. It’s for these kids out here that hang on to these words. They’re more dependent on me saying the next thing and seeing my face than I’m consumed with being an introvert.”
Even President Barack Obama has publicly given the rapper his support, telling PEOPLE in an interview that Lamar’s recent How Much a Dollar Cost is his favourite song of the year.
“I found out when everyone else found out. It’s crazy,” says Lamar of Obama’s shout-out. “That’s one of my favorite records, too. A lot of times we forget that people in higher places are human. To hear that he liked the same kick drums and the same snares that I like, it just makes him that much more relatable as a person, rather than just a president.”
With so much support coming from so many groups of people, it’s not hard to see why Lamar is leading the show with so many nominations. Although looking at some of the categories, it’s a little hard to see him winning every nomination. I’d truly be surprised if he beats out the huge hits like Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood and Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud. Still, if any artist deserves appreciation for the amount of time and thought he or she put into an album released this year, it’s Kendrick Lamar.
As for the future of To Pimp a Butterfly, fans won’t be seeing it on tour for quite a while. Lamar hopes to let its reverence settle a little bit before taking it on the road.
“The album just felt like an intimate process. It was all feeling. Maybe in another five, 10 years we’ll be able to take it on a world tour and give it its proper exposure,” he explains. “But present time, I just want to hold it dear. I didn’t want to overexpose it. It could be in arenas one day. I don’t feel like the time is right.”