Top 15 Kendrick Lamar Songs
August 2017
The ones themed around album releases are always really fun. There's something special about reflecting on an artists' career, and then immediately re-evaluating the significance of old work in new context with the new material. I dig that.

Playlist link is here.
#15 - Swimming Pools
houghts: this is a song that I would definitely like a LOT more if a few things hadn't happened - being with people who sing the chorus in wack voices + people using this song to pace shots at parties (it is about the opposite of doing that)

other reasoning: early examples of early-era (pre TPAB's u) kendrick on introspection and alcoholism and it is dope & a great fucking blend of party banger + technical prowess ("open your mind up and listen me kendrick") and also still probably had some positive impact on people struggling with serious stuff

thoughts 2: this is a really bad music video
#14 - HiiiPower
here's a thing: this song comes across as an origin story for TPAB and protest-music-kendrick

"Who said a black man in the Illuminati?/
Last time I checked, that was the biggest racist party/
So get up off that slave ship/
Build your own pyramids, write your own hieroglyphs"

econd thing:
second best song on section.80, probably best beat on the album

final notes: poverty is complex & even more complex in america where it's intertwined with the prison industrial complex's structural racism. it's cool & beautiful to see such a new artist (then) speak on it so succinctly & effectively
#13 - Poe Man's Dream (His Vice)
other countdown tie-in: does GLC ever have bad features? dope on this and y'all know my feelings on Spaceship

rap trope: kendrick might be the best at doing the whole "same-chorus-3+-times-except-different-meanings-on-context" thing

in sum: poe man's dreams is dope wordplay considering this song is about indulging your vices and not having much else available AND edgar allen died of cirrhosis. this is the best song on section.80
#12 - Untitled 02

"I can put a rapper on life support
Guarantee that's something none of you want"

--> Kendrick. please do that.

aesthetic: this song sounds like lean feels

other note: when the "cornrow kenny/ he was born with a vision" bar starts it is fucking CLARO and damn that is a strong fucking transition leading into a lowkey fucking opulent verse
thesis:It is probably not too fun to be a friend of kendrick lamar's and also be a rapper

supporting evidence: J. Cole and Kendrick are "friends" and yet, here, he works with cole's producer ib & on one of cole's beats + absolutely fucking slaughters the original. see also: Control (sorry Sean), Holy Key (sorry again Sean)...

additional note: I hate J cole so much and it is so beautiful to see kendrick just embarass him on it.

relatedly: Do you guys remember the wait between TPAB and DAMN? All those loosies coming out one by one, what a fun time. And at the end when there's that false ending and he comes back in with baaaaars? I was fucking gonezo

#10 - Tne Art of Peer Pressure
opening verse has so many fucking fuego lines - "quarter tank of gas/ one pistol an orange soda" is show don't tell"

"bumping jeezy first album looking distracted/
speaking a language only we know, you think is an accent"

sick circular shit with the:
"last time I checked/ I was the man on these streets"

in the outro - kendrick is smarter than us

plus the "usually i'm drug free, but shit i'm with the homies" is wild relatable
#9 - Alright
moderately hot take might be the best kendrick video

very hot take - this is the song that makes TPAB the What's Going On of the modern day

for real - how is any top 10 not going to include the song that was chanted at BLM protests all over america / this is the modern protest song + an angry joyous one

listening to and being around this song was possibly the most perfect intersection of art + culture + societal forces that i've ever seen and lived through
#8 - Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst
kendrick vs. rakim: I think this is the first time kendrick relied heavily on internal rhyme scheme and it is super sick

both verses have great very jarring endings, and unlike @evansmogor who is unable to understand how a beat intersects with the lyrics, it's fucking sick how the production is tied in

this is kind of a 2-for-1 because there's also that great channeling-jay-z "uh" segment at the end which is tight and very ethereal

kendrick is great when he's exploring religion and the intersection with his life - sorry it's not straightforward @Jason
#7 - Blacker the Berry
My pick is blacker the berry I'll post more later I'm sorry I'm disappointed in me too

‍I'm at my family's beach house homie
#6 - FEEL
"Ain't nobody praying for me" is such a dope refrain

As much as it pains me to say it, I genuinely think this is the natural next step from Jay Z's 22 Twos, which is almost blasphemous for me.

Plus - this feel/fill/internal scheme is so wild:

"Streets is talkin', fill in the blanks with coffins/
Fill up the banks with dollars/
Fill up the graves with fathers/
Fill up the babies with bullshit/
Internet blogs and pulpit, fill 'em with gossip/
I feel like this gotta be the feelin' what 'Pac was/
The feelin' of an apocalypse happenin'"
#5 - u
self-loathing kendrick is the second most (at times) relatable for me tbh. self-loathing & heavily drinking kendrick is definitely #1 (at rare times!!! promise)

people should be sad & introspective sometimes and this is kendrick's best sad & introspective song. it is not fun to think about the terrible things you've done, intentional or inadvertently, good intentions or not. wild bravery to put that on wax forever.
#4 - Humble
got mad concerned when I heard about DAMN coming out and him trying to follow up TPAB

heard humble and was immediately not concerned

video is such fucking fire/flows are wild and crazy twists
this sounds like if YG was produced by yeezus
#3 - Blue Faces (live on the Tonight Show)
this song was an EVENT!!!! do you remember the bloated kendrick era? do you remember the wack rumors of jcole + kendrick collab? do you remember the era post-tpab when we didn't know what was next and we were wandering aimlessly, wondering which iteration of kenny (cornrow, kungfu, etc...) was coming next?

twitter was reckless that night  + I maintain that this version - live instruments, backing vocals, tempo changes, keys - the one that combined two untitleds - is the best version of either
#2 - DNA
top 3 kendrick songs are all events tbh

not gonna lie I was very concerned about the DAMN release and lead up

didn't think the tracks going into it were as good as TPAB, or as interesting directionally, or any different than stuff he'd done

started DAMN and was even more concerned because spoken word pieces are not always the best at capturing attention

track 2 came on and I fell the fuck out of my chair MY GUY JUST TOOK TRAP FROM ATLANTA TOO bruh he said jazz is not enough for me, west coast is not enough for me, gimme all your genres and let me eat them off your fucking plate. he's gonna take your children and mix them up and they report to him now. the beat switch is straight out of the yeezus playbook too - let me take this hot beat & change it so absurdly/static it so much/chop it beyond repair -  that it straight up challenges you to like it

this is post-control king of new york kendrick and now claiming new territory next kendrick

if you do not understand how significant that is, you are out of your gourd
#1 - Wesley's Theory
GKMC was a very good album, don't get me wrong. It was probably the best west coast rap album we've gotten in ages - but it was very much a west coast rap album. There was some cool new plays on stuff, but nothing fundamentally new to it.

this is the best album opener since MBDTF - so fucking wild to go in completely without warning on some thicc new genre - this is what george clinton dreamed of - perfectly thematically in line with the album: pro black, erratic, introspective, angry, confused

this is when kendrick became president