Go Shorty: It's Kendrick Lamar's Birthday Playlist [AKA Songs He May Have Been Conceived To]
Go Shorty: It's Kendrick Lamar's Birthday Playlist [AKA Songs He May Have Been Conceived To]
Source: TDE

The Night Kendrick Lamar Recorded “The Heart Pt. 3” In Less Than 24 Hours

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Source: TDE

On the eve before good kid, m.A.A.d city was to come out, Andreas Hale was behind-the-scenes as Kendrick Lamar made history in less than a day.

The night of Oct. 19th, 2012 was a special one in Las Vegas. Kendrick Lamar was on the 32nd stop of a 34 city tour in advance of his major label debut album being released to the masses.

As a sort of gift and curse, good kid, m.A.A.d city had sprung the proverbial leak three days prior to the album’s official release date and the masses already had their ears wrapped around the highly anticipated album.

The buzz from what the artist formally known as K-Dot spilled into that project was palpable. It was immediately heralded as an instant classic, which was rare for an artist who cleared his own path independently. The flood of reviews and social media discussion made his Las Vegas stop that much more significant. The show was already sold out, but with the album leak, it became the hottest ticket on The Strip. Forget Cirque du Soleil, it was all about Kendrick Lamar. The confines of the Hard Rock Café are built for a decent sized crowd. Too big for an independent artists trying to make a name for themselves but too small to house an artist with a rabid fanbase.

READ: The Samples of Kendrick Lamar's 'good kid, m.A.A.d city'

Kendrick was right on the cusp of the latter, as evidenced by the line wrapped around the block as fans tried their hardest to squeeze their body into the venue that was already teetering on the fire marshals shutting it down. Nevertheless, the show went off without a hitch as fans absorbed K-Dot’s energy from previous projects and a few morsels from GKMC.

After the performance, we wait backstage to interview the Compton emcee while politicking with fellow TDE members Jay Rock and Ab-Soul. Kendrick has retreated to his dressing room to collect himself. There aren’t many people backstage aside from TDE personnel, myself, Shake from 2DopeBoyz, two of our videographers and Rob Markman, formerly of MTV. After an hour, TDE general manager Ret One emerges and asks if we would like to join Kendrick at the studio tonight.

“The studio?” I ask. It’s well past midnight and after 32 cities, you would think that Kendrick would need to get some rest in. If not sleep, the allure of the Vegas nightlife has often swallowed artists alive.

Nope. Not on this night. Kendrick Lamar has work to do.

The studio is a good 20 minutes from the venue and we arrive somewhere around two in the morning. Kendrick hops out the car and makes a beeline for the studio doors. Everyone else leisurely strolls in and plops down on the leather couches in the green room. Drinks are poured and some marijuana clouds travel through the building. But Kendrick is not even remotely interested in either vice. Instead, he emerges from the bathroom, greets those of us asked to hang out and pulls out a pair of black houseshoes.

“Don’t laugh,” he says. “I wear these whenever I’m in the studio.” Mind you, he hasn’t changed out of his camouflage button-down and jeans. He’s just needed to put on a comfy pair of slippers. Moments later, the muffled sounds of a Tae Beast production can be heard. Kendrick paces with a focused look. Those of us in the room lower our voices to not interrupt whatever words are bouncing around in his head. He stops, looks up from underneath the brim of his “L.A.” hat and darts into the recording area. The door shuts and everyone collectively raise the volume of their conversation. Our crew is setting up to record a three part interview and a “Decoded” session where Kendrick would later break down the first verse of “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.” But, right now? Kung-Fu Kenny is all business as the moon and sun are preparing to exchange places in the sky.

In between interviews with Ab-Soul and Jay Rock (ScHoolBoy Q was on the road at the time), we have candid conversations about GKMC. Jay Rock can’t help but remind that he told me about Kendrick’s greatness when we first met in 2009. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe him, but not like this. He’s laughing. “I told you, I told you, I told you,” he says in between breaths. “Little bro is going to be a legend.”

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Source: YouTube

Kendrick emerges from the studio area and motions to Jay Rock that it’s his turn on the mic. He’s still deep in thought so we don’t bother him. A few minutes later, Ab Soul takes his turn. Kendrick pops in, we overhear him fine tuning a verse and then heads to a room we set up for interviews. I ask him what he was doing in the studio and he coyly replies “Working.”

I’m not going to press him but it is interesting that he’s still crafting music days before his album is supposed to drop. He shifts the conversation to a fan who sent a long message on Facebook breaking down the narrative to GKMC and its ties to Kendrick’s previous projects. The short Cali rapper is animated and he beams that a fan was album to deconstruct his album and its meaning so quickly. He pauses and says “Damn, I’m going to have to make my next album a little more complicated huh?”

It’s evident that he wants people to figure out the story but you can see that he hoped it took a little longer to decipher.

“It took me all that time to make this album and this kid figured it out in 24 hours?” he laughs in amazement and plops on the couch. It’s closing in on 4am but he’s still wide eyed. Our conversation extends to close to an hour and we discuss a plethora of things between takes. Everybody else in the other room is buried in their iPhones or nodding off. But here’s Kendrick Lamar, fresh off of another performance, still alert and active. We wrap up, exchange different forms of dap and begin to pack our gear.

READ: Kendrick Lamar's Best Songs For The Ladies, Ranked

The door swings open to the recording area and we hear "When the whole world see you as ‘Pac reincarnated / That's enough pressure to live your whole life sedated…” before the door closes. Kendrick hops up, slides his slippers back on and heads back into the room while bidding us farewell.

It’s 4:30 a.m.

After everyone retreats to their respective homes to get a few hours of sleep, we all wake up to a TDE email with a new Kendrick Lamar song featuring Ab-Soul and Jay Rock titled “The Heart Pt. 3”.

Opening the file, I hear something familiar.

"When the whole world see you as Pac reincarnated, that's enough pressure to live your whole life sedated,” he rhymes over the Tae Beast production that is no longer muffled. And if I’m still lost, about what I’m listening to, Kendrick stamps it with his location. "Find the tallest building in Vegas and jump off it. But I could never rewrite history in a coffin.”

Yup, “The Heart Pt. 3” was recorded in Las Vegas in less than 12 hours. This wasn’t anything that took several days to come together. Kendrick knocked out his verse, passed the mic to his Black Hippy brethren and waited for MixedByAli to finish turning the knobs to fine tune the sound.

TDE wasted no time unleashing it to the masses and gave it the title that continued “The Heart” series. This wasn’t haphazardly put together. Rather, it was Kendrick burning the midnight oil and spilling a verse over production.

We knew he was working on something, but didn’t know that it would be a song unleashed to the masses just a few hours after it was finished.

Alas, this is the story about how “The Heart Pt. 3” came together and how we were in the presence of greatness.