The scenes that Kendrick Lamar paints on his critically acclaimed major-label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city aren’t just strikingly visual rhyme portraits, they are all rooted in real life. From beginning to end, K-Dot tells the story of a young man growing up in Compton, California, trying to avoid the magnetic pull of the streets and L.A.’s menacing gang culture.
Lamar found rap as an escape, but some of his friends weren’t so lucky. That’s where K-Dot found inspiration for his 12-minute narrative “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.”
” ‘Sing About Me’ is definitely a true song,” Kendrick confirmed to MTV News during an interview in a Las Vegas recording studio on Saturday morning.
“First verse is speaking from my partner talkin’ to me, speakin’ on a story of how I was there when his brother passed and I got to watch him take his last breath,” he explained of the song’s concept.
Kendrick’s homey is accepting of the street lives he and his brother chose, his only request to the emerging star was that if he too were to die that Lamar dedicate a song to him and his brother. “He definitely passed too,” Kendrick said somberly.
The track’s second verse is a continuation of “Keisha’s Song (Her Pain),” a track from Kendrick’s 2011 indie album Section.80 where the MC tells a tragic tale of a young prostitute who was raped and slain by a john. Unlike the subjects of the first verse, those close to the real-life Keisha wish that Kendrick had never told her story so publicly. ” ‘Keisha’s Song’ is a real song too, and what I didn’t understand was the fact that she had a younger sister,” he said. “I met her sister and she went at me about her sister Keisha, basically saying she didn’t want her to put her business out there and if your album do come out, don’t mention me, don’t sing about me.”
The duality of the mirroring situations was too much for the Black Hippy spitter to ignore, so he went against the wishes of Keisha’s sister. “And you’re right your brother was a brother to me/ And your sister’s situation was the one that pulled me/ In a direction to speak on something that’s realer than the TV screen,” he raps in the song’s third verse.
“That’s the flipside of it,” he said.
Should Kendrick Lamar have rapped about Keisha and her sister on “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”? Sound off in the comments!