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(8) DNA (2017) Kendrick Lamar

My second nod towards hip hop from this decade from an artist who could have come from my personal golden age (like many hip hop listeners, my golden age is almost perfectly aligned with when I attended high school).

Kendrick’s famous for his complex and immaculately constructed rhyme schemes, but it’s his use of straightforward internal rhymes and repetition combined with Mike WiLL Made It’s ferocious production that make this track a perfect choice for the last quarter of a run.

“I got…” and “inside my DNA” feel like forceful mantras. His first verse is all controlled aggression, unraveling the contradictions of heritage and legacy. Kendrick shifts to the present in his second verse, giving us a glimpse at the experience of living a life of earned luxury as a black man in America with anxiety about how his material success has changed him (even softened him) with dark days ahead. If you grew up in rough circumstances, an easy life just might feel like the Matrix and raise concerns that you were less prepared to deal with the threats of the future.

Previous
Running Mix 0
Running Mix 1: The Devil’s In Him Lord, Open His Eyes
Running Mix 2: I’m Still Running With Cats That Rob 
Running Mix 3: When Will Queens Realize That the Flow Don’t Stop? 
Running Mix 4: The Thug N***** Have Arrived And It’s Judgement Day
Running Mix 5: Ain’t No More Sqad In Me
Running Mix 6: Bumping E-40
Running Mix 7: I’ll Be Coming Home With the Future in My Pocket

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