Kendrick Lamar’s label, Top Dawg Entertainment, didn’t originally want Lamar to support Kanye West on the Yeezus tour, as reported by The New York Times Magazine. TDE CEO Terrence “Punch” Henderson told the Times, “Believe it or not, we were actually trying not to do the tour,” Henderson said. “We wanted Kendrick to be recording that whole time.
They wanted Kendrick recording because when Kanye extended the offer for the “Swimming Pools ” rapper to join the tour, he was already on tour for two years prior. Luckily, the problem was solved when West’s team secured a studio bus for Lamar so that he could record on the road. Henderson also said that West’s team “wasn’t taking no for an answer.” Additionally, it was helped by the fact that West wanted Lamar to have a significant role on the tour.
“Kanye said he didn’t want to make it seem like we were just the opener,” Lamar said. “It was dope to have the actual headliner of the show want my show to be just as good as his.”
The article also notes that Lamar and West didn’t become chummy or discuss a dream collar as you’d think. The writer, Lizzy Goodman, says she shadowed Lamar for three weeks before she saw him and West in the same room together—an interaction that lasted less than 30 seconds. She writes:
It’s tempting to imagine that tour partnerships between an established star and an up-and-comer result in lots of communal bonding. And of course sometimes they do. Bono has become famous for taking young bands out on the road with U2 and dispensing his so-called Bono Talk, a sermon on how to avoid the pitfalls of fame. Lamar knew people wanted to think this was happening between him and West, and he obliged within reason, dutifully explaining to journalists how much he was learning from West or telling an employee of his label who asked if they had been hanging out, “We haven’t really got an off day yet to chill out, but that’s the plan.” But a mentor-mentee relationship wasn’t what was expected or desired, and it certainly was not what was happening.