In November 1995, Dr. Dre and Tupac went to Compton, California, to shoot their “California Love” video. They stopped in the middle of the street by the Compton Swap Meet and got out to talk to the people. An 8-year-old Kendrick Lamar was there, sitting on his dad’s shoulders, transfixed by the West Coast legends. “Subconsciously, it sparked something,” Lamar told WGCI-FM’s The Morning Riot. “I always kept thinking about that moment.”
In the almost 20 years since then, Lamar has hustled his way into the company of those rappers he watched in 1995. He’s now under the tutelage of Dre himself, and he spoke to Tupac posthumously on his fantastic new record, To Pimp a Butterfly. Some of the biggest West Coast rappers call Lamar the “king of West Coast rap” — an even more valuable credential than his two Grammy Awards, No. 1 record and a Generational Icon award from California’s 35th Senate District.