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Punch Founder of TDE Talks About Kendrick Lamar's Possible Label Exit

Last August, Kendrick Lamar announced his next studio album would be his last with Top Dawg Entertainment, ending a nearly two-decade partnership. He made the announcement months after introducing his new company pgLang, which he co-founded with former TDE president Dave Free.

The TDE president spoke with Mic about Kendrick's imminent departure from the label, and reflected on his time working with Kendrick, as well as why he is "ready to build his own thing."

“That’s a grown man right now,” Punch said. “We watched him grow from a teenager up into an established grown man, a businessman, and one of the greatest artists of all time. How long does it take to sign up with someone? It's been almost twenty years."

Punch said it was time for Kendrick to “move on and try new things and venture out.” Punch said he’s “doing a great job developing Baby Keem.”

“It’s always been there, but now it’s just time and space where he can actually do it,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch because that’s something that started with what we built in the beginning.

To see it blossom, it’s a full-circle moment.”

In their mission statement, Lamar and Free describe pgLang as "multilingual," adding that it's not a "record label," "a movie studio," or a "publishing house." pgLang has lived up to its proclamation with the release of Keem's debut album The Melodic Blue, partnered with a Calvin Klein campaign.

Among their collaborations is a live-action comedy film that will be co-produced by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

“It’s different now just because it’s different, not because it’s his last project. It’s just the evolution of where we are,” Punch said in regard to Lamar's last TDE album. “Kendrick doesn’t need anybody in the studio to coach him and help him make an album anymore.

He’s well capable of doing everything on his own. It’s just the timeframe that we’re in.”


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