One afternoon, while I was working as a hostess in a restaurant, I overheard a song by Kendrick Lamar on the speakers. I only heard about two minutes of this lengthy 12-minute song. But, within those two minutes, I knew it was a song that I had to constantly play. I adored the soothing tone of his voice, and that is what made me fall in love with this song. No, not a song, a story. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” is composed of two parts. The interesting fact about Part One, “Sing About Me” is that it is broken down into three points of view. Part Two “I’m Dying of Thirst” includes a skit and ties back into the lyrics of Part One. Kendrick not only raps about today’s social issues; he raps about the social issues he’s personally gone through, as well as his friends, and how he overcomes these trials and tribulations.
I love Kendrick Lamar as lyricist because he is cut from a different cloth than today’s rappers. In my opinion, he is undeniably one of the greatest hip hop artists of his generation. I say this because all of his music is a story. He is not the usual artist that you’ll hear on the radio rapping about having sex with women, smoking weed or drinking “lean”, finding himself in trouble with the law or getting to the money. At least, you’ll probably never hear him rapping about these topics as a means for fun; he’s actually mentioned these topics to tell his story to his listeners to make them aware of the everyday life of a Compton teenager, even though we may just listen for entertainment.
What makes “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” so fascinating is one: it actually happened, two, this song ties into the whole album, which is a story line, and three, Kendrick wrote this song with three different points of view. In verse one, Kendrick is rapping, in his friend’s [named Dave] brother’s point of view. The brother’s name was never told; however, it is obvious he is speaking to Kendrick.
“Just promise me you’ll tell this story when you make it big…” ~ Verse One
He is telling Kendrick that he wants him to share his story with the world when he became famous. He tells the story of his brother getting shot right before him and his friends, including Kendrick. He also goes on to say how much he loved Kendrick for being a brother to his brother and for being there for him and his brother during the time of his death, as Kendrick is the one who held Dave in his arms as he was bleeding out. This verse was an example of a heavily common social issue, gun violence. Gun violence also corresponds with gang violence in this case. Kendrick raps:
“This Piru shit been in me forever
So forever I’ma push it, wherever, whenever…” ~Verse One
This clearly meant that Dave’s brother was gang-affiliated. This was more than common growing up in the 90’s and 2000’s in the wicked streets of Compton. Dave’s brother’s tone is angry and resentful towards the guys that killed his brother. It is also a tone of love admiration. As stated previously, Dave’s brother loved Kendrick as if Kendrick was his own brother. He says:
“I wonder if I’ll ever discover a passion like you and recover
The life that I knew as a youngin;
In pajamas and dun-ta-duns” ~Verse One
This conveys that Dave’s brother wants to find “a way out” like Kendrick did with his music. Unfortunately, he never did.