Kendrick Lamar's Three Deepest Songs
Kendrick Lamar is my favorite artist. I always find his reflections on abstract concepts displayed by his rap ability to be extremely thought provoking. Listening to his music has helped me persevere through some of my toughest times in life. I’ve spent countless hours studying to his music in pharmacy school and thinking about the things that really matter to me whenever listening to his songs. In this article, I would like to write about the three songs by Kendrick that evoke the most thought out of me.
Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst
Whenever I listen to this song, I feel like the lyrics and content of the music is extremely complex. Which is unusual for me because I usually understand the intent of most of his songs. What makes this song so complex is that in addition to Kendrick reflecting on his music career, he’s also seems to be rapping from the perspective of his friend who died from gang violence and asked Kendrick to “Sing About Me” and tell his story. After realizing their friend died, his friends seek revenge, “Dying of Thirst” and repeating the never-ending cycle of the gangster lifestyle. To unpack the multifaceted song in detail, check out the link: https://genius.com/1147929.
Inspired by a trip to South Africa in 2014, Kendrick speaks on great leaders such as Nelson Mandela in the first half of the track, and asks “if shit hit the fan, is you still a fan”, essentially questioning how loyal people would still be to these men if they witnessed them during their worse times. He emphasizes the point that no matter how great all these legends appear to be, at the end of the day, they are still “mortal man.” Kendrick’s ability to swiftly switch the tone of his music is uncanny and truly original. He displays this talent in the second half of the song, transitioning to an insightful conversation between him and Tupac. Kendrick then ends the song with a poetic thought that metaphorically offers a solution to the struggles of the black community.
This song hits me hard because it always reminds me of my biggest fear, which is failure to achieve greatness. Every time I listen to this song, I feel the need to battle my own thoughts internally and focus on being great. In the first verse, Kendrick speaks on his fears at age seven. In the second verse, his fears are described at age 17 as well as in the third verse where he raps from his perspective of himself at age 27. Interestingly, Kendrick claims the best verses he’s ever written were in this track.
“The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it.
Its only job to is to eat or consume everything around it.
In order to protect itself from this mad city
While consuming its environment
The caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive
One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him
But praises the butterfly.
The Butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness and the beauty within the caterpillar.
But having a harsh outlook on life
The caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak
And figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits
Already surrounded by this mad city
The caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon
Which institutionalizes him
He can no longer see past his own thoughts.
When trapped inside these walls certain ideas take roots, such as
Going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city.
Wings begins to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant.
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations
That the caterpillar never considered, ending the internal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different
They are one and the same.
What’s your perspective on that?"