Today (December 13), N.E.R.D. released their politically charged battle cry "Don't Don't Do It!," featuring Kendrick Lamar. The "World Record" Beats 1 premiere was influenced by Pharrell seeing the video of Keith Lamont Scott's fatal 2016 shooting by police officers in North Carolina.
The texture, sound, and composition of "Don't Don't Do It!" is unexpected. The song begins with a lounge-like beat and lyrics that were written by Frank Ocean. Then, the track quickly transitions with kinetic fury as Pharrell yells the words "don't, don't do it" backed by plucky guitar strings and skittering drums.
However, the pinnacle of the song is Kendrick's blistering verse. In a verbal barrage, Lamar spits a verse that tackles the media, police brutality, and the death of black bodies. Kendrick flexes over the beat with the type of speed and dexterity that would make Twista proud. He truly hits his stride during the middle portion:
Black man do your great escape
Pac-man wanna prosecute you, raise your hand up, and then shoot ya
Face off, face up Adolf Hitler
Grandkids slayed off
N----s, same rules, same chalk
Different decade, same law
Keep focus, you wanna get caught with your eyes open
You wanna stay clear of the prognosis
In an interview with Zane Lowe, Pharrell goes in-depth about watching Scott being killed on video.
"I was watching the news," says Pharrell. "This gentleman by the name of Keith Scott, he was waiting on his child to get off the school bus. The authorities were looking for someone. So what I believe is they encountered each other. His wife is standing trying to get to him. So she's filming the entire thing on her camera phone. And she knows, you can tell in her voice she sees what's going to happen. She is saying 'Don't do it. Don't, don't do it. Don't do it, Keith. Don't, don't do it.' And of course, you know the way that turns out. He gets killed."
N.E.R.D.'s No_One Ever Really Dies arrives on December 15 and will feature André 3000, Future, Ed Sheeran, among others.