Well, I’m sure that this week we are all listening to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, get out from under that rock), so I’m going to run down 10 of my favorite Kdot tracks on this playlist (plus 1 bonus).
Ronald Regan Era — To get things started, one of the best tracks off Lamar’s “mixtape” (although a lot of people consider it his first album) Section.80. Kendrick is just having some fun here, still saying some ill things, and the beat on this is nice. Check out Ab-Soul doing the vernacular intro at the beginning of the track.
Black Lip Bastard (Rmx) — This is an absolutely sick posse cut off of Ab-Soul’s Control System, featuring Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, and Jay Rock. Lamar has got the first verse on this track, but all of them are show-stoppers.
The Jig Is Up — This is just a throwaway that Lamar did with J. Cole producing the track, but, my god, is he sounding hard on this one. Catch the Shyne dis right around the middle of this one. Apparently Spotify can’t support this track, so here it is on YouTube.
The Blacker the Berry — I had to include just one off of Butterfly. This is probably the most “mainstream” track off this album, which is really saying something. Beautiful fusion of conscious raps and a hard sound, which is something Lamar really excels at.
Look Out for Detox — Another mixtape throwaway track for Lamar that ends up being better than most people’s best efforts. For the record, this is the first time I ever heard Lamar rap. This was all it took. “I’m at a level where I be amazing myself.” Damn right. And we have to go to YouTube for this one too.
A.D.H.D. — Another cut off of Section.80. This is like Lamar telling us what it’s like to be a part of his generation. The beat here is just perfect—captures the kind of newish, late-’00s sound that Lamar would become known for, but still has a slacker-esque kind of vibe that works with the themes of the track.
HiiiPower — Aaaaaand here’s the other side of his generation, the politically infused, carrying the weight of his predecessors side. So many quoteables on this track, including one of the best lines of Lamar’s career: “And I want everybody to view my autopsy / so you can see exactly where the government has shot me.”
Swimming Pools (Drank) — This was the charting single off of Lamar’s official first album, good kid m.A.A.d city, which again goes to show you how well Lamar can make damn good hip hip into something palatable to the mainstream. This is the story of every sweet, shy kid trying to fit in by drinking a little too much.
P&P 1.5 — Going waaaay back to Lamar’s mixtape Overly Dedicated (made back when he couldn’t give away his music), this is that song you want to listen to when life is stressing you out too much. The P and P of the title are pussy and Patrón, which I guess were Kdot’s substances of choice back in the day. Make sure to listen all the way to the end for Ab-Soul’s guest verse.
Black Boy Fly — To end things here, the conscious track to end all conscious tracks in Kdot’s career to this point. I’m sure academic theses have been written about this track alone. Also—it’s moving as fuck and sounds beautiful.
And lastly, to end things here, it’s kind of egregious that I can’t find “Control” anywhere on Spotify. (I know the samples were never cleared, but for god’s sake.) We just can’t end a Kendrick Lamar playlist without including this track. So here it is via YouTube. Big Sean outdid himself, and then Lamar followed him up by changing the game. And any track where Jay Electronica is an afterthought, well . . .