Do you ever feel like you should be having more fun?
Everybody's fun is different. Mine is not drinking. I drink casually, from time to time. I like to get people from my neighborhood, someone that's fresh out of prison for five years, and see their faces when they go to New York, when they go out of the country. Shit, that's fun for me. You see it through their eyes and you see 'em light up.
People treat you like you're a saint or a monk, which must be weird. But the people closest to me really know who I am. They get all of the versions.
Is there maybe something of the monk about you, though?
I guess that can go back to when I was a kid. It felt like I was always in my own head. I still got that nature. I'm always thinking. I'm always meditating on the present or the future.
Was there a sense that you were special as a kid?
From what my family tells me, I carried myself as a man – that's why they called me "Man Man." It put a stigma on the idea of me reacting as a kid sometimes – I would hurt myself and they would expect me not to cry. That put a lot of responsibility on me, got me ready for the responsibility my fans put upon me. I ended up getting tough skin, too, even with criticism. My first time in the studio, [label chief] Top Dawg was like, "Man, that shit wack." Other artists around couldn't handle that. But it made me go back in the booth and go harder.
Where did all that maturity come from?
It just came from being around older motherfuckers, man. I was seven years old playing tackle football with 14-year-olds. Anybody my older cousins was hanging with, that's who I wanted to hang with. I've always been short [chuckles]. Everybody was always bigger and older than me. It gave me insight on people.