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Breaking Down Kendrick’s Grammy Set & "Untitled 3" Verse

Politically charged with an invigorating message.

Adrien Vargas // REVOLT

Initially teased as a “very controversial” piece by host LL Cool J, Kendrick Lamar wowed the world with a performance that echoed the word ‘epic’ at last night’s (February 15) 58th annual Grammy Awards. Performing a medley of songs off his Grammy Award winning album, To Pimp A Buttefly, the Compton rapper unequivocally (and sonically) yanked America into the modern day black experience in America. The message was clear and the interpretation was potent. K. Dot didn’t just deliver an incredible set, he utilized his medium as a mallet to a symbolic gong for change.

This mirror for “change” was evinced through the imagery of mass incarceration, a call for a conversation about race in America, and indignation at the justice system— all in under seven minutes. Channeling a visual of Michael Jackson’s ever-important “They Don’t Care About Us” music video, we find a shackled up Kendrick adding an umph to the ferocity behind the opening lines of “The Blacker the Berry,” where he shouts, “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015.” Said with much furor and infliction, the words rung from out of the Staples Center and into everyone’s living room television sets like a liberated lion’s roar.

Released in early 2015, the song sparked numerous back-and-forth conversations surrounding Kendrick’s pointed narrative. When To Pimp a Butterfly arrived later that year, it made complete sense. In the interviews that took place since the LP's arrival, Kendrick made mention that the nucleus behind this project was serving the masses not what they want, but something that they need. So as he rapped from the perspective of a pissed off fist-raising activist on verse one of “Blacker the Berry” before that crowd, the rapper was only sticking close to his courageous script.

“You’re fuckin’ evil, I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey,” he snaps. Not before long, those aforesaid chains came loose for the illuminating anthem “Alright.” Symbolizing a celebration of life, without the proverbial shackles that come from the trials and tribulations of everyday society, the “Alright” rapper evoked spirit and change all while a burning bonfire and liberating moves from the tribal dancers completed the visual crux of the matter.

The visual poetry then came to a fitting conclusion with Kendrick’s debut of another untitled record, which has since been dubbed by fans as “Untitled 3.” “On February 26, I lost my life too / It’s like I’m here in a dark dream / Nightmare, hear screams recorded… Why didn’t he defend himself? Why couldn’t he throw a punch?,” he points out. “2012 was taken from the world to see / Set us back another 400 years, this is modern day slavery.” Following in the long line of his previous late night show performances, this latest installment continues Kendrick’s social narrative, while all in all piecing together this entire performance as a must-have “conversation for the entire nation.”

“It’s bigger than us,” he makes clear at the closing seconds of the freestyle. It’s a topic that many usually shy away from, but here Kendrick reverts the mirror back to America as means of engaging the discussion — no matter how intense or frightening it may be for some.

With so many layers to comb through, the entire “Untitled 3” verse deserves a look at, so below we laid out a transcription of K. Dot's poignant message.

Untitled 3

"It's been a week already

Feeling weak already

Got me at peak, possibility of what could be

Situation is heavy, I got the prunes

On February 26th I lost my life too

It's like I'm here in a dark dream

Nightmare, hear screams recorded

Say that it sounds distorted but they know who it was

That was me yelling for help when he drowned in his blood

Why didn't he defend himself? Why couldn't he throw a punch?

And for our community do you know what this does?

Add to a trail of hatred

2012 was taken from the world to see

Set us back another 400 years

This is modern day slavery

The reason why I'm by your house

You threw your briefcase all on the couch

I plan on creeping through your damn door and blowing out

Every piece of your brain until your spine drip to your arm

Cut off the engine then sped off in a Wraith

I'm on the dash with my bible nigga

Had the vodka on the top

How come I can long time

How come I could make it popular?

Puff on what I want

How come I could make it popular?

Puff on what I want

See I'm living with anxiety

Giving up sobriety

Cussing with his sister

And playing with society

Justice ain't free

Therefore justice ain't me

Try and justify staying, obituary

Why you wanna see a good man with a broken heart?

Once upon a time, I go to church and talk to God

Now I'm thinking to myself

Hollow tips is all I got

Now I'm drinking by myself

At the end of Section Park

I said Hiiipower, one time you see it

Hiiipower, two times, you see it Hiiipower, two times you see it

Conversation for the entire nation this is bigger than us..."

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