In an interview with Kevin Durant and his podcast co-host Eddie Gonzalez, engineer Derek “MixedByAli” Ali revealed just how much music Kendrick Lamar leaves on the cutting room floor. Ali has worked with Kendrick on every one of his solo albums since 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, but he says he’s worked on a lot more than just the music that’s seen the light of day. In fact, he says there could be around six unreleased albums worth of material.
“For Kendrick alone, let me say I think we could put together like six albums,” he said at the 34-minute point of the latest episode of The ETCs with Kevin Durant. “Everyone’s the same way, it’s all about just understanding that you could always do something better. It’s having that mindset to just strive for the best possible version of you. That’s Kendrick’s whole mind state, always striving to do better. Whether it’s recording a new verse, you know he would record a whole song and get one ad-lib back a month later because he don’t like how he breathed the ad-lib, y’know?”
It’s no secret that Kendrick Lamar is very particular about what he releases. In a 2017 interview with Billboard, K.Dot revealed he made somewhere between three and four versions of Good Kid.
“He’s a true artist,” Ali told Durant and Gonzalez.
At the 30-minute mark, he explained that Kendrick really challenged him when it came to working on To Pimp a Butterfly, which was very far removed from the projects he worked on prior. “I never mixed any real live instruments,” he remarked, before adding that he figured it out along the way. “It was the most humbling experience to this day.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Ali opened up at the 36:30 point about working with Mac Miller on his 2017 album The Divine Feminine. “It was tough because I know how much he was hurting. … I could see the pain he was dealing with,” he said, before explaining how well TDE got along with Miller. In fact, he called them the late rapper “the sixth Black Hippy member.”
“So he moved to L.A. and didn’t know anybody,” he said. “Everybody is probably trying to take advantage of him. So like you come across us, we just embrace him as the homie and he loved it. We all loved him. [Schoolboy] Q especially, it’s like just having another boy around that you could—you could talk shit about and tell him his breath stinks, and can just talk about how ugly he is. It’s just one of the boys, man. It’s just one of the boys, bro, and I miss that dude.”
Listen to the full episode of the podcast above.