Getting booed offstage is a right of passage for new musicians. It might be hard to believe now, but even Kendrick Lamar was once a rapper struggling to get an audience to understand his music. In an interview with BBC Radio 1, the DAMN. rapper discusses being heckled as an opener and hype man for Jay Rock early in his career.
“I’ve been booed before, you know,” said Lamar. “It happened. It happened. When I first started for sure. It’s one of them things. I hear these stories all the time when they feel like the person onstage wasn’t doing good. I knew I was doing good right, but for new artists, it’s a place where people don’t necessarily know what they like. You know? And sometimes to respect a certain artist you have to be in the cool factor. You know? I wasn’t in the cool factor yet, so they don’t know what to think.”
To be fair, Kendrick Lamar wasn’t always a proven commodity and did make his share of bad songs before the days of Section.80 and Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. In an interview with Forbes for its 30 Under 30 issue, Kendrick was candid when asked when he knew his rap career would take off.
“I think when I made a terrible single, and that shit was just garbage,” said Lamar. “That’s the real moment for sure… That’s when I realized I really wanna do this, because I ain’t give up when I made a terrible ass song.”
The moment Kendrick is most likely referencing is 2009’s “C4,” where he came off as a Lil Wayne clone rapping over a host of Weezy instrumentals. Thankfully, the TDE rapper shed that facade pretty quickly on 2010’s Overly Dedicated.
Listen to Kendrick Lamar’s entire BBC Radio 1 interview here. Lamar discusses his beginnings as a hype man around the 28-minute mark.