At times, Kendrick Lamar is as reclusive an artist as we have, choosing to make his statements in his music rather than in interviews. But every now and then, the wunderkind from Compton pokes his head out the hole and decides to speak to the world, and because of how rare the occasion, and how poignant his words tend to be, it’s always must-see TV. So, when Kendrick popped up on The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday, fresh off seven new Grammy nominations, it was all but assured he’d drop a few gems, and he did not disappoint.
As these lengthy convos tend to do, Kendrick’s talk with Howard went far and wide, as he discussed meeting Dr. Dre for the first time, working with Taylor Swift and who is the greatest rapper alive (he named himself, rightfully so). One fascinating nugget Howard was able to mine out of Kendrick was also somewhat disappointing, though, as K. Dot discussed a missed opportunity to collaborate with Prince. Yes, Prince would have, and should have been on Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly, but one thing halted the musical union: Kendrick’s overwhelming reaction to Prince as a fan.
“I played him a record on there called ‘Complexion (A Zulu Love),'” Kendrick revealed. “It was just one of my favorite moments, he liked the record.” Kendrick went on to detail how they met at Prince’s estate for a meeting the day Prince had an event planned. And while the late singer loved the song, by the end of the day Kendrick completely forgot about the potential collaboration thanks to an impromptu performance.
“It’s one of those things where, it’s so much going on in the moment, man,” Kendrick said, exasperated. “I did a show with him that day, I didn’t even know I was coming out on stage. The studio was next door where I just played him the song. We were running back and forth.”
After Howard marveled at the fact that Kendrick never knew he’d be joining Prince on stage until the moment he actually joined him on stage, the rapper continued the story. “He was doing an event and he’s like “You want to watch me on the event?” and, yeah I want to watch!” Kendrick recalled, excitedly. “I’m out there watching and he says “Come on stage” in mid-performance, so I’m up there freestyling and it just turned into something else. I totally forgot about the song after that (laughs).”
The fact that the performance was completely off the cuff makes it even more incredible, as Kendrick, Prince and the band seem to be in complete harmony on stage. “It’s a surreal moment because this is one of the people I idolized,” Kendrick said. And sure, Prince on “Complexion” would have been amazing, but Kenny and Prince’s impromptu performance is just as nice.
Check out Kendrick and Prince’s performance below, as well as several other clips from his interview with Howard Stern.