The tenth track on Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, M.A.A.D. city feels like three tracks bound together, intentionally, inalienably. It must be, like a trinitarian necessity. A raw paean to hope of memory in the midst of abrupt death, a desperate hustle that cries out for redemptive washing, and Maya Angelou leading wounded, angry young men to the Water. The whole narrative of the album is worth a listen, but I keep this track on repeat because I can barely hold myself together during these words:
“I count lives all on these songs/Look at the weak and cry, pray one day, you’ll be strong/Fighting for your rights even when you’re wrong/And hope that at least one of you sing about when I’m gone/Am I worth it?/Did I put enough work in?”
(Note for my readers: the song spares no graphic voicing; it’s aware, but too gritty for simple audiences. That means your kids.)
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a better anthem to the cultural work of the street prophet.