THE GENIUS OF "SING ABOUT ME, I'M DYING OF THIRST" BY KENDRICK LAMAR

On Kendrick Lamar’s second studio album “Good Kid M.A.A.D City,” Kendrick gracefully tells a harsh but beautiful story of a decent kid growing up in a crazed city, ridden with all the vices of mankind. The story is woven throughout the whole album, making the listener dig through the album to put it together in order. The climax of this intricate story can be found in the tenth song, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.” Kendrick Lamar exemplifies disparate perspectives: one of reflection-Kendrick’s own-of the urban ghetto, Compton, and the desperate actions it forces people into doing such as prostitution and murder and more; and one of negativity and vengeance as some friends campaign to avenge their friend who died to a gun wound. The music behind the poetic lyrics take a form of its own and tells a story through its broad composition and sound fx.


Photo by Annie Leibovitz


The first perspective in this song comes from Kendrick’s friend who passed before the album dropped. In this verse, over a voice message left for Kendrick, Kendrick’s friend poetically elaborates on the mindset of a typical, self-sabotaging, Piru gangbanger over a soothing, looped instrumental (sampled from the drum break from the track “Use Me” by Bill Withers and the guitar from “Maybe Tomorrow” by Grant Green) that amplifies the exhaustiveness of this state of mind. In the end, Kendrick’s friend’s pride gets the better of him as he refuses to change his ways, “This Piru shit been in me forever so forever I’ma push it, wherever, whenever.” Two lines later “And if I die before your album drop, I hope-[gunshots]” Kendrick’s friend dies, the chorus begins, and the strings ensue “promise that you’ll sing about me forever…”


Verse two, tells the perspective of Kendrick’s friend still as he is presumably bleeding on the ground uttering his last words. At the end of the verse as Kendrick’s friend is pleading for immortality, “I'll never fade away, I'll never fade away, I know my fate

And I'm on the grind for this cake, I'ma get it or die tryin'

I'm eyein' every male gender with intentions of buyin'”

The music slowly decrescendos as he says he’ll never fade away until we can’t hear him anymore and he is ultimately gone.


The next verse, as Kendrick reflects on himself, Sometimes I look in the mirror And ask myself: Am I really scared of passin' away? If it's today, I hope I hear a…” the notes of the strings in the back crescendo then immediately cease before he mentions heaven and Jesus. In this one instance, the music does not reinforce the lyrics


In the next part of the song, the music completely changes into something more aggressive because Kendrick raps about taking revenge on his friend’s killer. They’re bloodthirsty. A choir plays in the background.



The end of the song is brought by a woman stopping Kendrick and his friends on their way to avenge their fallen ally. She pleads for their compassion, leads them into prayer, then baptizes them.


Overall, the music contour of this song really fits and enforces the lyrics. At every major turn in the great storytelling, there is a clever musical twist to go along with it.





References:

“Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst.” Genius, 22 Oct. 2012, genius.com/1145773.



Article by Huey

instagram: @chukieoj


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