DNA. by Kendrick Lamar Lyrics Meaning – Unraveling the Genetic Blueprint of a Hip Hop Masterpiece

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Kendrick Lamar's DNA. at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning


I got, I got, I got, I got
Loyalty, got royalty
Inside my DNA
Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace
Inside my DNA
I got power, poison, pain and joy
Inside my DNA
I got hustle, though, ambition, flow
Inside my DNA

I was born like this, since one like this, immaculate conception
I transform like this, perform like this, was Yeshua’s new weapon
I don’t contemplate, I meditate, then off your fucking head
This that put-the-kids-to-bed, this that

I got, I got, I got, I got
Realness, I just kill shit
‘Cause it’s in my DNA
I got millions, I got riches
Buildin’ in my DNA
I got dark, I got evil, that rot
Inside my DNA
I got off, I got troublesome heart
Inside my DNA

I just win again, then win again like Wimbledon, I serve
Yeah, that’s him again, the sound that engine in is like a bird
You see fireworks and Corvette tire skrrt the boulevard
I know how you work, I know just who you are
See, you’s a, you’s a, you’s a bitch

Your hormones prolly switch
Inside your DNA
Problem is, all that sucker shit
Inside your DNA
Daddy prolly snitched, heritage
Inside your DNA
Backbone don’t exist
Born onside a jellyfish, I gauge

See, my pedigree most definitely don’t tolerate the front
Shit I’ve been through prolly offend you
This is Paula’s oldest son
I know murder, conviction
Burners, boosters, burglars, ballers, dead, redemption
Scholars, fathers dead with kids
And I wish I was fed forgiveness
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, soldier’s DNA
Born inside the beast
My expertise checked out in second grade
When I was nine, on cell, motel, we didn’t have nowhere to stay
At twenty-nine, I’ve done so well, hit cartwheel in my estate
And I’m gon’ shine like I’m supposed to antisocial, extrovert
And excellent mean the extra work
And absent-ness what the fuck you heard
And pessimists never struck my nerve
And that’s a riff, gonna plead this case
The reason my power’s here on earth
Salute the truth, when the prophet say

I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA
(This is why I say that Hip-Hop has done more damage)
(To young African-Americans than racism in recent years)
I live a better, fuck your life
(Five, four, three, two, one) this is my heritage, all I’m inheritin’
Money and power, the makin’ of marriages

Tell me somethin’
You mothafuckas can’t tell me nothin’
I’d rather die than to listen to you
My DNA not for imitation
Your DNA an abomination
This how it is when you’re in the Matrix
Dodgin’ bullets, reapin’ what you sow
And stackin’ up the footage, livin’ on the go
And sleepin’ in a Villa
Sippin’ from a Grammy and walkin’ in the buildin’
Diamond in the ceilin’, marble on the floors
Beach inside the window, peekin’ out the window
Baby in the pool, Godfather goals, only Lord knows

I’ve been goin’ hammer, dodgin’ paparazzi, freakin’ through the cameras
Eat at Four Daughters, Brock wearin’ sandals
Yoga on a Monday, stretchin’ to Nirvana
Watchin’ all the snakes, curvin’ all the fakes
Phone never on, I don’t conversate
I don’t compromise, I just penetrate
Sex, money, murder, these are the breaks
These are the times, level number nine
Look up in the sky, ten is on the way
Sentence on the way, killings on the way
Motherfucker, I got winners on the way

You ain’t shit without a body on your belt
You ain’t shit without a ticket on your plate
You ain’t sick enough to pull it on yourself
You ain’t rich enough to hit the lot and skate
Tell me when destruction gonna be my fate
Gonna be your fate, gonna be our faith
Peace to the world, let it rotate
Sex, money, murder, our DNA

Full Lyrics

In Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DNA.’, there’s more than just a melody and a beat; there’s a statement, a manifesto spiked with truth, rhythm, and hard-hitting revelations about identity, culture, and persistence. With prowess and lyrical tenacity, Lamar breaks down his genetic makeup—an allegory for the essence of who he is and what shapes us all.

Far beyond the surface, ‘DNA.’ is a dense mosaic of personal history, social commentary, and an assertive claim to his rightful legacy. The song, a standout track from his critically acclaimed album ‘DAMN.’, pulsates with raw energy and intricate poetry, demanding deeper examination. We dissect its layers to expose the marrow of Lamar’s cryptic yet profoundly insightful reflections.

The Dichotomy of Human Complexity

Lamar’s opening verse reads like an inventory of his intrinsic qualities, with stark juxtapositions such as ‘loyalty, royalty,’ and ‘power, poison, pain and joy.’ These lines canvas the complexity of the human condition that lives within us—both its virtues and vices. He acknowledges that the struggles and triumphs, the good and the bad, are woven into his fiber.

This acknowledgment isn’t meant to be an excuse but a proclamation of his inherent strength and tenacity. Through the etchings of his own ‘DNA.,’ Lamar invites the listener to consider their own inner juxtapositions, the genetic tapestry that both empowers and entraps, that echoes history and predicts futures.

A Glimpse into Kendrick Lamar’s Genesis

The refrain ‘I was born like this, since one like this’ suggests a fateful design, a notion that Lamar’s destiny was sealed from the outset. His reference to ‘immaculate conception’ and transformation into a ‘new weapon’ hints at a Messianic role within the realm of music and cultural discourse.

This is Lamar positioning himself as a prophetic figure, using the power of his words to ignite change and to speak truths as he sees them. Highlighted with religious imagery, his ‘DNA.’ becomes both a birthright and a burden, an unalterable script that he must embrace and fulfill.

The Cultural Implications of Genetics

Interweaving personal roots with broader social commentary, Lamar delves into cultural DNA—the inherent traits passed down that shape societal roles and individual identity. Lines like ‘My DNA not for imitation’ and the provocative Geraldo Rivera sample serve as a fierce repudiation of cultural appropriation and a critique of the systems that oppress.

As he declares his heritage and the complexity therein, Lamar poses a broader question of how society’s perceptions and biases are coded into our very being, questioning the systemic structures built on racism, black struggle, and the resolve that emerges in response.

Unpacking the Profound and the Profane

The song’s visceral language connects the sacred and the street, casting both in lyrical relief. Through quick-fire verses and relentless intensity, Lamar issues a clarion call to examine the environment’s influence on our genetic coding. ‘Sex, money, murder—our DNA’ isn’t just a line; it’s an epitaph for the covetous aspects of humanity, a highlight of systemic ills and personal battles.

Here, Lamar touches on the notion of inherited trauma and the persistence required to overcome it. These words resonate with piercing familiarity, sounding a battle cry for those determined to transcend the limitations that history might dictate.

The Search for Redemption Beneath the Verses

Throughout ‘DNA.’, Kendrick Lamar navigates between defiance and introspection, ultimately threading a subtle quest for forgiveness and redemption. From ‘I wish I was fed forgiveness’ to the aspirational images of personal success, his narrative arcs towards hope and resilience within the cyclical struggle.

While his DNA carries the burden of past transgressions and social injustices, he wields it as a source of strength. In his embrace of the duality found within him, Lamar suggests that redemption lies not in the abandonment of one’s DNA but in the acceptance and mastery of it.

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