In the wake of the turmoil that has swept the nation and resulted in protests across the country, Kendrick Lamar sat down with MTV at a recent Reebok event to explain the significance his single “i” as well as how it relates to the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and a litany of other black men across the country.

“It’s something that I’ve been around since the beginning of time. I remember coming up in the city of Compton and [seeing] these same types of ordeals. So when I make a record like “i”, this is not just about me. It’s about what’s going on in real life, actual [facts].

My father definitely talked to me about that early on—he came from Chicago to Compton, and he dealt with it his whole life. He knew the moment I was born [that] the color of my skin was gonna be put to the test, and that’s just how it is. We have legacy, people who’ve died for it, but [there’s] still that type of negativity out there.

He told me, ‘Every day, carry yourself with some integrity and don’t let them see you sweat.’”

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