Lamar has stated that Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Nas and Eminem are his top five favorite rappers. Tupac Shakur is his biggest influence, and has influenced not only his music, but his day-to-day lifestyle as well. In a September 2012 interview, during the NFL Draft, Lamar stated Detroit-based rapper Eminem “influenced a lot of my style” and has since credited Eminem for his own aggression on records, such as “Backseat Freestyle”. Lamar also gave Lil Wayne (during his Hot Boyz days) credit for influencing his style and praised his longevity. He has said that he also grew up listening to Rakim, Dr. Dre and Tha Dogg Pound.

In a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Lamar mentioned Mos Def and Snoop Dogg as rappers that he listened to and took influence from during his early years. He also cites Yonkers-based rapper DMX as an influence: “[DMX] really on music,” explained Lamar in an interview with Philadelphia’s Power 99. “That first album [It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot] is classic, [so he had an influence on me].” In January 2013, when asked to name three rappers that have played a role in his style, Lamar said: “It’s probably more of a west coast influence. A little bit of Kurupt, Pac, with some of the content of Cube.” In a November 2013 interview with GQ, when asked “The Four MC’s That Made Kendrick Lamar?”, he answered Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Mobb Deep, namely Prodigy.

Musical style

On the topic of his music genre, Lamar has said: “You really can’t categorize my music, it’s human music.” Lamar’s projects are usually concept albums. Lamar’s album, To Pimp a Butterfly, incorporates elements of funk, spoken word poetry and jazz