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On the latest episode of the Touré Show, a podcast hosted by decorated writer Touré dedicated to picking the brain of some of the most successful people in art and culture, Touré sits down with the greatest rapper alive, Kendrick Lamar. Backstage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center last fall, Kendrick discusses everything from how Malcolm X inspired his approach to making music and meeting Obama in the Oval Office to the psychological impact of witnessing murder from an early age. “It completely chipped at my confidence,” he admits.

The in-depth interview also finds Kendrick talking about his greatest record (“Alright”) and greatest verse (“FEAR.”), how managing his obsessive passion for music is a bigger challenge for him than resisting the trappings of fame, and why his work carries such powerful and important messages. “My mistakes, the knowledge that I have, the wisdom that I have, it’s not just a job or entertainment for me; this is a lifestyle, this is what I have to offer to the world,” he says. “‘Cause when I’m gone, I can rest peacefully knowing that I contributed to this right here — the mind.”

Listen below…

On meeting Obama:

“I was talking to Obama and the craziest thing he said was, ‘Wow, how did we both get here?'”

On how Malcolm X inspired his music:

“My mistakes, the knowledge that I have, the wisdom that I have, it’s not just a job or entertainment for me; this is a lifestyle, this is what I have to offer to the world. ‘Cause when I’m gone, I can rest peacefully knowing that I contributed to this right here — the mind.”

On witnessing murder from an early age:

“It completely chipped at my confidence…You have these successful people that come around and tell you what’s good and what’s bad in the world and how you end up dead or in prison. but from my perspective, it didn’t really mean shit to us because you tellin’ us all these positive things, but when we walk outside this door and we see somebody’s head get blown off, whatever you just said just went out the window.”

On uplifting his community:

“This is where these rappers and these celebrities that come from these backgrounds, this is where we have to be in place. you’re putting YMCA in your communities and you’re giving jobs to these cats that can’t be hired anywhere else. I got too many homeboys that have two felonies and can’t get a job, so I have to take the initiative and do it for them. I believe that them opportunities will spread, because when I put the power in their hands, they can put it in the next.”

On visiting Africa:

“It’s just a feeling, man, of nurture. It changed my whole concept of where I’m from. I was only thinking about Compton and our small little corner, but the world is so much bigger than that.”

On discipline:

“That right there is the hardest thing that’s known to man — to me, personally. it could be drinking, it could be eating candy, it could be obesity; to restrain that and to control yourself, that is the ultimate power…A more personal discipline for me is the idea of learning how to balance the time between my family that care about me and love me, and the ultimate chase of spreading these words. I could be in the studio all day, turn the phone off and completely zone out because I feel like this is what I was chosen to do. So learning how to balance that with people that care for me is my struggle.”

On inspirations outside of hip-hop:

“Michael [Jackson], Quincy [Jones], Prince, Marvin Gaye, Isley Brothers, Luther [Vandross], Muhammad Ali. All these people are parallel because they have this same eye. Their passion is obsessive. I see the same thing that I feel when I watch them in art form.”

On critics saying black women are “absent” in his music:

“That’s not a fair critique, at all…I would definitely need a woman to break that down to me, ’cause I’ve made some pretty connecting songs about women, and black women in particular.”

On meditation:

“I need 30 minutes a day of just reflecting on the moment.”

This episode of the Touré Show is also available on iTunes, Spotify and Podbay.

Related: Kendrick Lamar, U2 & Dave Chappelle Open the 2018 Grammy Awards