Kendrick Lamar*Kendrick Lamar has made the startling revelation that when he was just five years old, he witnessed a drug dealer getting shot outside his home in Compton, California.

During a chat with NPR radio, the rapper discussed how the controversial subjects of racism, gang violence and police brutality serve as the template for his music, and most certainly inspired the lyrics to his critically acclaimed “To Pimp A Butterfly,” an album that has earned him 11 Grammy nominations. He related the murder incident while discussing his creative process.

“It was outside my apartment unit,” Lamar tells NPR Radio about witnessing the murder. “A guy was out there serving his narcotics and somebody rolled up with a shotgun and blew his chest out. We kids play in this apartment unit, riding our bikes or what not. Admittedly, it done something to me right then and there. It let me know that this is not only something that I’m looking at, but it’s something that maybe I have to get used to – you dig what I’m saying?”

Kendrick also discussed the repeated “found myself screaming in a hotel room” line on the TPAB, while reflecting on his bout with depression and his feelings of homesick while on the road.

“What was the feeling? The feeling was missing home,” he admitted. “The feeling was, I should be with my family right now when they’re going through hardships, with the loss of my dear friends that’s constantly passing while I’m out on this road. The feeling was, ‘How am I influencing so many people on this stage rather than influencing the ones that I have back home?’ That’s the feeling: being inside the hotel room, and these thoughts I’m just pondering back and forth while I look at the ceiling all night.”

While Lamar doesn’t have a rap sheet, he admits that he hurt people until music saved his life, despite the industry and fame being quite overwhelming for him now.

“You can have the platinum album, but when you still feel like you haven’t quite found your place in the world — it kind of gives a crazy offset,” Lamar says. “When you go inside these places, no matter how much money you have, no matter how much success, when you still feel like you’re not comfortable, where’s the feeling in that?”