Kendrick Lamar appears on the cover of Variety magazine’s first-ever “Hitmakers” issue. On the snow driven cover, the Compton rhymer looks angelic while he ponders his thoughts.

For the cover story, K.Dot chats with writer Andrew Barker as he discusses the creative process behind his third studio effort, Damn.

“For me, prior to me recording, it’s 70% me just formulating ideas in my mind and 30% just collecting sounds and making sounds, prior to me actually getting in the studio,” he explains. “Then it’s about figuring out which angle I’m going to attack it from and how the listener is going to perceive it. These are the ideas you’re constantly, constantly thinking about, and it’s not really about going to instrumentals and bringing on beats [from producers], because I feel my greatest knack is for taking cohesive ideas and putting them on wax. So it starts with me first, with my thoughts.”

The 30-year-old artist didn't want to explore the riddles and subliminal messages on the project— instead he would rather have the fans decipher the undertones in his songs.

“I think the more people talk about it, the more it becomes fascinating, and you can have a debate about it,” he tells the mag. “It’s all healthy because it’s talking about the music. As long as I keep knowing how much to give, giving just enough, and being able to pull back and leave the audience to interpret it, I think [the music] will stay intact.”

Shot by photographer Peter Yang, the photos features Kung Fu Kenny decked out in Nike gear. As you may know, Lamar signed a deal with the sneaker giant to promote their classic Cortez sneaker.

You can read Kendrick Lamar's full cover story at Variety.com.

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