From Kendrick Lamar’s first full-length LP, good kid, m.A.A.d city, comes the 12 minute epic, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, a story of violence, tragedy and redemption.

Like the rest of the album, the track is set in the violent, poverty-stricken Compton, Cali., where Lamar grew up.  Split into two parts, the album’s turning point explores the violence in which Lamar mastered his craft as a rapper.  In part one, “Sing About Me,” Kendrick writes from the perspective of a friend whose brother died in Kendrick’s arms: “You ran outside when you heard my brother cry for help. Held him like a newborn baby and made him feel like everything was alright.”

Later in the in the first act, Lamar’s friend asks him not to forget his past and the people who made him who he is now:  “And I love you cause you love my brother like you did.  Just promise me you’ll tell this story when you make it big.  And if I die before your album drops I hope…”  Three gunshots ring out, abruptly cutting him off before he can finish his plea.  The vocals stop, but the beat moves on.  Another young life is taken, but life moves on.  When talking about the track, Lamar said that his friend had died just like his brother had, and that is why he is included in the song.

Part two, “I’m Dying of Thirst,” shifts from a narrative tone to an active tone projecting the anger that stems from the constant killing:  “Tired of running. Tired of hunting my own kind but retiring nothing. Tires are steady screeching, the driver is rubbing. Hands on the wheel. Who said we wasn’t?”

Accompanying Lamar’s cathartic lyrics is a muffled drum kick, but what provides the poignancy is the angelic voice that permeates the anger Kendrick externalizes.  It creates the illusion of a pure spirit watching the senseless violence and rage unfold before her.

Lamar repeats that he is “dying of thirst” throughout the final act of the track.  The listener has no idea what he means until the final minute of the song: a baptism.  The music stops, and all is heard is an older woman, the voice of reason: “You young men are dying of thirst.  Do you know what that means?  That means you need water.  Holy water.  You need to be baptised with the spirit of the Lord.”

She then goes on to have Kendrick and his friends recite The Sinners Prayer to repent for all of the violence they have perpetrated.  This signals a change in Kendrick’s life from his days in Compton as K-Dot, to the Kendrick Lamar who escaped, but has not forgotten, his past.

For more of Sam’s Soundtracks, check out a discussion of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” right here.  Or a look back at this classic Modest Mouse track.

The Hilights 

Album Title: “good kid, m.A.A.d city”

Release date: Oct. 22, 2012

Cost: $11.99 for album, $15.99 for deluxe edition, song is available with album only

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

By Samuel Schiffer

I am a senior at Boone High School. My interests include being a senior at Boone High School, good music, and good movies.

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