Kendrick Lamar is having a moment – and it’s bound to get bigger in 2016.
On Feb. 15, the rapper will attend the Grammy Awards as the frontrunner. With 11 nominations, Lamar comes one short of tying with Michael Jackson for scoring the most nominations in one night. (Thriller helped the Gloved One nab 12 nods in 1984.)
“I’m still soaking that all in,” Lamar, 28, tells The New York Times in a far-reaching interview. “Michael will forever be the greatest. I’m glad it was at 11. I would never want to even think about putting myself on the same level as Michael, simply because I haven’t put in the work that he did. It couldn’t be a better number.”
Among Lamar’s potential honors: album of the year for his third studio album To Pimp a Butterfly. But for Lamar, that wouldn’t be enough.
“Ultimately, for the hip-hop community, I would love for us to win them all,” he says. “Because we deserve that. Period.”
He further explains, “I want all of them. Because it’s not only a statement for myself, but it’s a statement for the culture. They’re all important, because of the foundation the forefathers laid before me. Nas didn’t get a chance to be in that position. [Tupac]. So to be acknowledged and to actually win, it’s for all of them.”
Regardless of what happens on Grammy night, Lamar already has the presidential seal of approval. In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, President Barack Obama named Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost” his favorite song of the year.
“I found out when everyone else found out. It’s crazy,” Lamar says of Obama’s selection. “That’s one of my favorite records, too. A lot of times we forget that people in higher places are human. To hear that he liked the same kick drums and the same snares that I like, it just makes him that much more relatable as a person, rather than just a president.”
And although To Pimp a Butterfly has been played everywhere from the White House to Taylor Swift’s house, don’t expect Lamar to take the effort on the road anytime soon.
“The album just felt like an intimate process. It was all feeling. Maybe in another five, 10 years we’ll be able to take it on a world tour and give it its proper exposure,” he explains. “But present time, I just want to hold it dear. I didn’t want to overexpose it. It could be in arenas one day. I don’t feel like the time is right.”