Rapper Kendrick Lamar has released a new PSA video about mentorship, in which he talks about meeting President Barack Obama in the oval office, and the importance of good influences in underrepresented African American communities.
“I look where I’m at today and realize that most of my success is owed to the mentors … in my life,” Lamar can be heard saying in the first few seconds of the minute-long video. “Sometimes I look back and wonder, ‘Where would I be, if I didn’t have the presence of an older acquaintance tell me what’s right and what’s wrong?’” Lamar says.
While Lamar grew up poor in Compton, CA’s violence plagued neighborhoods, his musical perspective has always been one of positivity and self-examination.
One of the biggest new musicians in hip-hop — Lamar’s magnum opus To Pimp A Butterfly is nominated for 11 Grammys Awards this year — the songwriter has been outspoken about the need for community involvement to solve the problems of places like Compton, and uses his lyrics to inspire would-be gang members to do something greater.
And so, for many, it seemed a meeting between Lamar and President Obama was inevitable. Especially after Obama recently made headlines for announcing his favorite song of last year was Lamar’s How Much A Dollar Cost?
At least according to Lamar, they shared many of the same views on their visit together, covering “topics concerning the inner cities, the problems, the solutions and furthermore embracing the youth.”
President Obama likely identified with many of the same experiences as Lamar, based on his time growing up on the South side of Chicago.
Lamar ended his moment talking about Barack Obama in the video by saying how mentorship had affected them both in their youth.
“We are both aware that mentoring saves lives,” he said.