“America Has a Problem” by Beyoncé & Kendrick Lamar
The release of Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s “America Has a Problem”, as a standalone single on 19 May 2023, came as a surprise because first of all, there was not an announcement beforehand. Secondly, Beyoncé hasn’t dropped any singles since those associated with her mid-2022 album “Renaissance”, and we also haven’t heard from K-Dot since his LP “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers”, which came out around that same time.
With that said, the original version of “America Has a Problem” is actually a Beyoncé solo track as found on “Renaissance”. So technically, the collaboration with Kendrick is a remix. And this would be their third time they’ve teamed up, after 2016’s “Freedom“, which Knowles also headlined, and 2019’s “Nile“, as found on “The Lion King: The Gift”.
The Team Behind “America Has a Problem”
This song is a product of Columbia Records and Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, i.e. the same labels behind “Renaissance”. Moreover, this time around pgLang, the company K-Dot recently founded, got down for the cause.
Beyoncé is given both writing and production credit for this track, as are Mike Dean and The-Dream. The other authors of the song include DJ Taz and Beyoncé’s celebrity husband, Jay-Z.
Also to note, this track is named after the 1990 tune, “America Has a Problem (Cocaine)”, which it samples. So the artist behind that track, Kilo Ali, is also given writing credit on Queen B’s “America Has a Problem”.
So What’s America’s Problem?
That’s the question which, based on the title, the listener would be expecting this song to answer.
Furthermore, both of the vocalists at hand are known to get pretty deep with social analyses when they want to. But in all honesty, this song isn’t really about anything serious. K-Dot uses the opportunity primarily to engage in braggadocio, while Beyoncé is more or less focused on touting her sex appeal.
The first verse is held down by Kendrick, and it becomes obvious early one that “America Has a Problem” isn’t a social commentary.
In fact his verse, as with the song at large, doesn’t really appear to have anything to do with America per se. Instead Lamar set things off for instance by giving a shoutout to his label, pgLang, as well as acknowledging his significant other, who he identifies using the colloquialism “Stink”.
Then, to reiterate, he proceeds to engage in braggadocio, not of any specific type but random musings pointing to his greatness. For example, the vocalist alludes to his superiority over other rappers.
He also noted how “even AI gotta practice cloning” his style, which is an acknowledgement of Kendrick being one of the first musicians whom artificial intelligence was used to impersonate. And before all is said and done he gives a shoutout to Beyoncé, noting that he’s “honorary Beyhive”, i.e. a fan of hers basically.
And Lamar also notes, in a poetic way, how Billboard, i.e. the premiere music-ranking institution in the United States, placed him second, after Jay-Z only, on their recent “50 Greatest Rappers of All Time” list.
Then, the second verse starts with Beyoncé proclaiming “heard you got that D for me”. Said “D”, in context and based on a common colloquialism, would most likely be an abbreviation for a man’s manhood. And she follows that statement by what can be considered another sexual reference, though a double entendre also pointing the songstress looking for a “deep” romantic relationship.
So basically, what her verse revolves around is addressing a romantic interest, this guy who’s been “watching”, “fiending” and “scheming” after Knowles.
It is also implied that said individual is a “drug lord”, one whom the vocalist has the hots for also. And it may be that Beyoncé is referring to Jigga, who is known to depict himself as a high roller in the drug game. But all things considered, this probably represents some type of romantic fantasy on the part of the vocalist.
Refrain and Pre-Chorus
The refrain that follows then seems to serve the purpose of reiterating the second verse. It likewise begins with a sexual reference, i.e. the vocalist’s “booty”, with Beyoncé expressing the confidence that if the addressee “hit(s) it one time”, he will definitely come back for more. And she also seems to buttress the notion that the type of guy she’s looking for is akin to “Tony Montana with the racks”, i.e. a gangsta drug dealer who makes a lot of money.
So what’s being implied in the pre-chorus that follows is “America Has a Problem” being sort of a love song. The first verse may not be so, but the rest of the song is more along those lines.
And by this point, it can be taken that K-Dot is portraying the role of Beyoncé’s romantic interest, whose lyrical goal is to verify that he can fulfill his co-stars needs, though again, not taking it there directly with his own verse.
The Chorus of “America Has a Problem”
In the chorus, we are met with more of what can be considered Beyoncé’s usual fare, i.e. the vocalist celebrating her curvaceous body and more to the point the alluring effect it has on men.
Here, it is also sorta implied that she’s looking for an “ex-dealer” as opposed to one that’s active, and maybe all of the drug references are meant to serve as some sort of motif. But there are also some related statements, such as those that close out of the chorus, which for all we know may allude to some type of real-life hustling activities, almost as if Queen B is trying to insinuate that she’s actually down with that life.
And that’s a pretty sound observation to end this analysis on, considering that Beyoncé can play the intellectual, matriarchal, Black empowerment role at times but in other instances, such as with this song, tends to let her uninhibited side take over. And when she does lean towards the latter, as displayed she can go hard.
But unless you’re familiar with Knowles’ original, solo rendition of “American Has a Problem”, chances are (also considering the Kendrick Lamar feature) you probably approached this song thinking it was something serious, like a critique of American society. But instead, what we are more squarely met with is what reads like a love song between a hot girl and a hustler.
Boy, you know I grind (Grind)
When I pull up these jeans, you’re mine (When I pull up these jeans, you’re mine)
You’re mine (You’re mine, you’re mine)
When I step on the scene, they
Can’t wait to back it up
Your ex-dealer dope, but it ain’t crack enough
I’m supplying my man, I’m in demand soon as I land
Just know I roll with them goons (Goons)
In case you start acting familiar
This kind of love, big business
Whole slab, I kill for”
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America’s Problem lies in Beyoncé
“Given the title of the song (‘America Has a Problem’) and Beyoncé’s identity as a black woman, I anticipated that this track would address issues such as racial bias, politics, or police brutality. However, to my surprise, Beyoncé boldly acknowledges that the problem America faces lies within herself. This assertion holds true in a unique way. Beyoncé, as a successful and influential black woman, defies societal expectations. She showcases black love, unity, and empowerment throughout her entire career without succumbing to stereotypes or unnecessary drama. By challenging the narrative that the media often perpetuates about black people, Beyoncé and others like her present a nuanced perspective that confronts America’s preconceived notions.”
– Kojo Enoch
3 Reasons I Love “America Has a Problem”
“I love this song for three reasons. Firstly, I appreciate the fact that there appears to be an intriguing contrast between its title and the lyrics. At first glance, they may seem unrelated, but upon closer examination, you discover that the title perfectly fits the essence of the song. Secondly, it evokes memories of the vibrant 80s breakdance battles, and that’s what captivates me. Finally, the song brings back fond memories of my favorite uncle, who was a breakdancer in Chicago, and reminds me of the joyous moments we shared during that era of pure enjoyment.”
– Ezra Morano
A Song that Motivates
“Whenever Beyoncé and Kendrick collaborate, the result is always astounding. Prior to listening to “America Has a Problem”, my favorite track from the duo was 2016’s “Freedom”. However, this song has now claimed that special spot in my heart. It has instilled within me a tremendous sense of confidence, hope and self-belief. When I listen to it, my mind feels as though it’s unlocking, revealing new possibilities and empowering me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I am truly grateful for their collaborations and I hope they continue to inspire us in ways that surpass our wildest dreams. Thank you, and may their future collaborations continue to leave an indelible mark on the world.”
– Tonya Wright
Such a Remarkable Singer
“This song truly transports me into Beyoncé’s unique realm. The ‘RENAISSANCE’ album on which ‘AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM’ is listed in its entirety showcases her unapologetic authenticity. It is a testament to her tireless efforts and hard work, where she has earned every accolade and success. She exudes confidence and has every right to be proud of her achievements. Through this song, Beyoncé makes me feel she no longer concerns herself with the opinions of others. It’s a powerful statement of self-assurance and determination. As she continues her journey, we can only anticipate her further ascent to new heights. The world better be prepared to witness her ongoing climb, as she fearlessly blazes her own trail.”
– Miss Jackson