We have to own hip hop! The reason I say this is because the last three records are hip hop. I am a hip hop person. We have three styles of music — soulful, classic rock, and disco. I have three kids and my wife and her parents are all from the South. We love our southern roots. The Southern-based soul and Southern-based rock music I grew up with. I went through the ‘Soul Train’ and the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ thing. All that stuff came into being in New Orleans.
The thing that I’m really proud of in New Orleans is a lot of these people that came into the city over the past few years were black-owned. So a lot of the people that were with us were black folks. But over the years I’ve gotten to understand that they don’t own any of it. So this last record, to be honest, I did not get a lot of credit for that. I was really doing the music, but it really was a little bit of an ensemble. All these people are together. I was really doing their songs, but they got the songs and I got the vocal harmonies. They had the songs, and then me — in some cases — was doing the singing. This record is my biggest accomplishment to date.
How does it feel to live in a city like New Orleans where an artist like Kendrick Lamar is making his debut as a rapper?
To be 100 percent honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I came here. I knew I might have something here, but I was not necessarily sure I would like it. When I got here I was surprised just how much I loved it. It felt like home on a lot of levels. But to me this city has a soul. I know a lot of the people here were raised in an environment where they weren’t necessarily told to go to the hospital or anything crazy like that. In that regard the culture in New Orleans has evolved in a way that many people don’t appreciate. It was a different time and there was a different set of circumstances to move to. I like what I’m seeing here. I’m happy to be in this city for what would seem like a long time.
Do you think there is a future for West Coast rap?
I don’t know. It’s not something I can get into. I’m not sure there will be one day. I think it’s great to play that stuff — music
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