Kendrick 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 his music as well as his day-to-day lifestyle. 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 rapper DMX as an influence: “[DMX] really [got me started] 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 a September 2012 interview, Lamar stated 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‘s work in Hot Boys 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 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, [Tupac], with some of the content of Ice 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. Lamar professed to having been influenced by jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and Parliament-Funkadelic during the recording of To Pimp a Butterfly.