The tragic truth about Kendrick Lamar that you probably didn’t know!

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Some consider him a rapper, while others see him as a poet, but one thing universally acknowledged is that Kendrick Lamar is a musical genius. Since making his debut with the studio album “Section.80” in 2011, Lamar has transitioned from an emerging emcee to one of the most esteemed lyricists in the music industry.

In a 2014 interview with The New York Times, Pharrell Williams drew a remarkable comparison between Lamar and the legendary Bob Dylan, considered one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever. “You can just see the kid’s mind like a kaleidoscope over a beat,” Williams remarked. In another conversation with Apple Music, Williams attributed Lamar’s exceptional songwriting skills to his disciplined approach to subject matter.

Despite his legendary artistry, Lamar has faced significant personal tragedies over the years. In his 2010 track “Cut You Off (To Grow Closer),” the rapper touched on the death of his grandmother, a pivotal figure in his childhood. “Ever since grandma died, everyone parted ways / Argue on holidays,” he rapped. This loss is just one of the many hardships Lamar has endured.

 

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Here are some tragic incidents Kendrick Lamar has been through!

Kendrick Lamar was born on June 17, 1987, to Paula Oliver, a hairdresser, and Kenneth “Kenny” Duckworth, a former gang member. In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Lamar revealed his father’s involvement with the Gangster Disciples, a gang in Chicago’s South Side. His mother, displeased with this lifestyle, issued an ultimatum to Duckworth, urging him to leave the gang life. “She said, ‘I can’t f*** with you if you ain’t trying to better yourself. We can’t be in the streets forever,'” Lamar recalled.

The couple eventually moved to California, settling in Compton. “They were going to go to San Bernardino. But my Auntie Tina was in Compton. She got ’em a hotel until they got on their feet, and my mom got a job at McDonald’s,” Lamar told Rolling Stone. Struggling financially, Oliver and Duckworth alternated between sleeping in their car and motels. “Eventually, they saved enough money to get their first apartment, and that’s when they had me,” Lamar added.

However, despite the move, Duckworth and Oliver never fully escaped street life. “They wasn’t no perfect mothaf***as. My pops did his thing. My moms did her thing. In the streets, you know what I’m saying? Together. They stayed with it for the sake of me. I’m their first born,” Lamar explained in a 2010 interview with Paul Cantor.

 

Overcoming Poverty and Homelessness

After starting their family, Lamar’s parents struggled to make ends meet, relying on government welfare and food stamps. “My moms used to walk me home from school — we didn’t have no car — and we’d talk from the county building to the welfare office,” Lamar recounted to Rolling Stone in 2015. Despite their efforts to shield him from their financial struggles, Lamar quickly realized the situation. “I realized his work schedule wasn’t really adding up,” he said of his father’s job at KFC. “They wanted to keep me innocent. I love them for that.”

Lamar has fond memories of his childhood, despite the challenges. His parents often threw house parties, some of which he snuck into. They also made sure he had gifts on special occasions. “I didn’t know it was hard times because they always had my Christmas present under the tree and for my birthday,” he recalled to Spin.

Witnessing violence and tragedy

Growing up in Compton, Lamar witnessed significant violence. At just four years old, he experienced the chaos of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. “I remember riding with my pops down Bullis Road, and looking out the window and seeing motherf***ers just running,” Lamar recounted to Rolling Stone. Amidst the riots, his father seized the opportunity to loot. “I can see smoke. We stop, and my pops goes into the Auto-Zone and comes out rolling four tires. I know he didn’t buy them. I’m like, ‘What’s going on?'” he added.

When he was only five, Lamar saw a teenage drug dealer get killed in a drive-by shooting. “It was outside my apartment unit. A guy was out there serving his narcotics and somebody rolled up with a shotgun and blew his chest out,” he shared with NPR. These traumatic experiences profoundly shaped Lamar and his music. He has frequently addressed police brutality in his songs, notably in his 2015 single “Alright,” which has become an anthem for protests in the Black community.

 

Kendrick Lamar had teenage depression and survivor’s guilt

In 2015, Lamar released “u,” a track from his album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” where he detailed his struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. “I know your secrets, n****, mood swings is frequent, n**** / I know depression is restin’ on your heart for two reasons … And if this bottle could talk I cry myself to sleep,” Lamar rapped.

In an interview, Lamar explained that the song drew inspiration from his upbringing. “Nothing was as vulnerable as that record, so it’s even pulling from those experiences of coming up in Compton … the experience of going through change,” he shared with MTV. Part of his mental health struggle stemmed from survivor’s guilt after losing childhood friends to violence in Southern California.

In “I,” another song from “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Lamar again touched on his struggles, revealing, “I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent.” To cope, Lamar sought therapy, which was a significant step for him as a Black man. “To challenge myself to go therapy, s***, that’s like a whole new step in a whole new generation. That’s growth,” he shared with Spotify during a trip to Ghana.

Gang violence and personal loss

In tenth grade, Lamar attended a summer school he had to walk to every day amidst a gang war. “This was the time the gang rivals was heavy between my neighborhood and the neighborhood a few blocks down. We would always debate, like ‘Damn, I hate going to this summer school class cause we gotta walk home at this time in the summertime where we know the war likes to pop off around the evening,'” he recounted in a 2012 Vevo Lift interview.

Despite attempts to stay clear, Lamar got involved in gang activities, including home invasions and robberies. This led to trouble, with police visiting his home and his parents disciplining him by making him leave the house for two days. “That’s a scary thing, because you might not come back,” he told Rolling Stone.

In a 2015 interview with NPR, Lamar opened up about the tragic death of his friend Chad Keaton, who was injured in a drive-by shooting in 2013. Lamar felt immense guilt for not being able to visit Keaton in the hospital before he died. “Chad was a really hard one for Kendrick. It was really hard for him because Chad was younger than us. The little bro,” Lamar’s friend and business partner Dave Free said in “The Big Hit Show.”

 

Kendrick Lamar’s struggles with sex addiction and personal redemption

Lamar has been open about his battle with sex addiction, which led him to cheat on his longtime partner, Whitney Alford. In his 2022 album “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” Lamar candidly addressed this issue in the track “Mother I Sober.” “Insecurities that I project, sleepin’ with other women / Whitney’s hurt, the purest soul I know, I found her in the kitchen / Askin’ God, ‘Where did I lose myself? And can it be forgiven?'” he rapped.

Despite initially hiding his addiction from Alford, she eventually encouraged him to seek therapy. “Pure soul, even in her pain, know she cared for me / Gave me a number, said she recommended some therapy,” he explained in the song.

Lamar and Alford have been together since high school, and their relationship has grown deeper over the years. In 2015, Lamar confirmed their engagement, and the couple has since welcomed two children, daughter Uzi in July 2019, and son Enoch in 2022. “I wouldn’t even call her my girl. That’s my best friend. I don’t even like the term that society has put in the world as far as being a companion — she’s somebody I can tell my fears to,” Lamar told Billboard in 2015.