'The world, not just hip-hop, owes him,' rapper says of POTUS
Credit: Leigh Vogel/WireImage; Scott Dudelson/WireImage

As President Barack Obama carries out his final weeks in office, Kendrick Lamar is hailing the chief.

In a recent interview with XXL, the To Pimp a Butterfly rapper commended Obama for opening the White House up to him and other hip-hop artists to make their voices heard on such issues as youth mentoring and criminal justice reform.

“I think the world, not just hip-hop, owes him,” Lamar said of the president. “We all have to give him his credit due for even allowing us into the building. We would probably never get inside that house ever again. Think about it like that. Rick Ross, [J.] Cole, Nicki Minaj, he really went for us to come experience it.”

Lamar was referring to Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which has welcomed him and fellow musicians looking to effect positive change for boys and young men of color. “This is something our grandparents always wanted to see, never thought in a million years,” he said, “but [we can] pass it down to our generation to say, ‘All right, I’m in here and I’m finna use my power to let ya’ll see how this thing works, and I’ma drop some knowledge on y’all that a man can’t drop on everybody else ‘cause y’all have the most influence.’”

Obama is a longtime fan of Lamar’s — he once declared him a better rapper than Drake — and the appreciation is certainly mutual.

“You look at him as such a high figure in the world,” Lamar said, “but for him to embrace you and have a connection with you further than just being the president and make you feel like an actual friend, that’s probably the best moment and one of his best characteristics. I meet a lot of people in high places and sometimes they get so detached from the world and from the people, they don’t even know how to interact with you.”

He added, “Hopefully when I get to be the older gentleman like himself, [I’ll] be able to carry myself in this type of manner.”

Read Lamar’s full interview at XXL.