ELEMENT. by Kendrick Lamar Lyrics Meaning – Peeling Back the Layers of Raw Introspection and Street Wisdom

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


New Kung Fu Kenny
Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me
Y’all know, what happens on Earth stays on Earth
Here we go

I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck
I don’t give a, I don’t give a, I don’t give a fuck

I’m willin’ to die for this shit
I done cried for this shit, might take a life for this shit
Put the Bible down and go eye for an eye for this shit
D-O-T my enemy, won’t catch a vibe for this shit, ayy
I been stomped out in front of my mama
My daddy commissary made it to commas
Bitch, all my grandmas dead
So ain’t nobody prayin’ for me, I’m on your head, ayy
Thirty millions later, know the feds watchin’
Auntie on my telegram, like, “Be cautious”
I be hangin’ out at Tam’s, I be on Stockton
I don’t do it for the ‘Gram, I do it for Compton
I’m willin’ to die for this shit, nigga
I’ll take your fuckin’ life for this shit, nigga
We ain’t goin’ back to broke, family sellin’ dope
That’s why you maney-ass rap niggas better know

If I gotta slap a pussy-ass nigga, I’ma make it look sexy
If I gotta go hard on a bitch, I’ma make it look sexy
I pull up, hop out, air out, made it look sexy
They won’t take me out my element
Nah, take me out my element

I’m allergic to a bitch nigga, ayy
An imaginary rich nigga, ayy
Seven figures hold that slimmer than my bitch figure, ayy
Goin’ digital and physical on all y’all, ayy
Bunch of criminals and money in my phone calls, ayy
We okay, we let the A1 fly
Relocate, jump on the same G5
Checkin’ for me heavy ’cause I go, yeah, I go, yeah
They never been ready, yeah, I know, yeah, know, yeah
100K spread ‘cross the floor, ‘cross the floor, yeah
None of y’all fuckin’ with the flow, yeah, the flow, yeah
Years in the makin’, and don’t y’all mistake it
I got ’em by a landslide, we talkin’ about races
You know this’ll never be a tie, just look at they laces
You know careers take off, just gotta be patient
Mr. One through Five, that’s the only logic
Fake my death, go to Cuba, that’s the only option

If I gotta slap a pussy-ass nigga, I’ma make it look sexy
If I gotta go hard on a bitch, I’ma make it look sexy
I pull up, hop out, air out, made it look sexy
They won’t take me out my element
Nah, take me out my element

Damned if I do, if I don’t (yuh)
Goddamn us all if you won’t (yuh)
Damn, damn, damn, it’s a goddamn shame
You ain’t frontline, get out the goddamn way

Niggas thought they wasn’t gonna see me, huh?
Niggas thought that K-Dot real life
Was the same life they see on TV, huh?
Niggas wanna flex on me and be in L.A. for free, huh?
Next time they hit the 10 freeway, we need a receipt, huh?
‘Cause most of y’all ain’t real
Most of y’all gon’ squeal
Most of y’all just envy, but jealousy get you killed
Most of y’all throw rocks and try to hide your hand
Just say his name and I promise that you’ll see Candyman
Because it’s all in your eyes, most of y’all tell lies
Most of y’all don’t fade, most of y’all been advised
Last LP I tried to lift the black artists
But it’s a difference ‘tween black artists and wack artists

If I gotta slap a pussy-ass nigga, I’ma make it look sexy
(It’s the one and only, the world’s greatest, the Kid Capri)
If I gotta go hard on a bitch, I’ma make it look sexy
I pull up, hop out, air out, made it look sexy
They won’t take me out my element
Nah, take me out my element

Full Lyrics

Kendrick Lamar’s ‘ELEMENT.’ strikes a chord that reverberates through the concrete jungle of Compton to the vast corners of hip-hop culture. Released in 2017 as part of his critically acclaimed album ‘DAMN.’, the song has carved itself deeply into the psyche of listeners, not just for its haunting beat or Lamar’s aggressive delivery but for the rich layers of meaning just below the surface. Deconstructed, ‘ELEMENT.’ reveals an artist grappling with fame, identity, and the inexorable pull of his origins.

However, to fully grasp the essence of ‘ELEMENT.’, one must dive beyond the polished production and delve into Lamar’s intricate lyricism—an area where he has established his dominion repeatedly. His words serve as a blueprint of survival in a world that is often unkind to those who dare to rise from its fringes. Here, we parse the verses in an effort to understand the raw honesty and unapologetic truth of Kendrick Lamar’s battle cry.

Survival of the Realest: Dissecting Kendrick’s Grit

The song kicks off with an unmistakable declaration of resilience. Lamar doesn’t ‘give a fuck,’ a repeated mantra that punctuates his willingness to stand firm in the face of adversity. As he puts it, he’s willing to ‘die for this shit’, a stark admission that underlines the lengths he’s prepared to go for his art, his beliefs, and his community. It’s a nod to both his past struggles and the battles he continues to fight within the industry and society at large.

‘ELEMENT.’ resonates as a testament to Lamar’s unyielding spirit. The song becomes a canvas where he paints the portrait of a man who has dealt with emotional and physical trauma, including being ‘stomped out in front of my mama’. His candidness reveals the personal cost of his journey while also serving as a reminder of his fortitude.

A Glamourless Ode to Compton: Kendrick’s Homeland Homage

While many artists might capitalize on their success to sell illusions of glamour, Lamar roots ‘ELEMENT.’ in the unvarnished realities of Compton life. He rejects performative actions ‘for the ‘Gram’ and instead pays homage to his upbringing and to the city that shaped him. Compton is not simply a backdrop but a central character — a living, breathing entity that he carries with him in each verse and refuses to abandon.

‘I don’t do it for the ‘Gram, I do it for Compton,’ Lamar insists, marking a line in the sand between authenticity and artifice. This refrain is a declaration of his dedication to keeping it real, to making music that resonates with the daily struggles and triumphs of those who come from places like Compton.

Flash and Flesh: The Magnetic Push-Pull of Materialism

In the ethos of ‘ELEMENT.’, Kendrick Lamar examines the allure of wealth, the ‘seven figures’ that both satisfy and ensnare. There’s a recognition of the necessity for financial prosperity, especially when coming from a background speckled with hardship and survival tactics like ‘family sellin’ dope’. Yet, there’s an undercurrent of critique about those who let money morph their morality or define their identity.

The imagery of ‘bunch of criminals and money in my phone calls’ sends a stark reminder that financial success can often be entangled with illicit activities, especially in the contexts from which he hails. Lamar acknowledges this street savvy that has contributed to his awareness and understanding of the world but couples it with a striving towards something greater and transcendental.

Confronting the Specter of Envy and Integrity in the Limelight

Prophetically addressing the perils that accompany fame, Lamar lays bare the propensity for envy among peers. He shines a relentless spotlight on the jealousy that can lead to one’s downfall, a theme deeply woven into the fabric of ‘ELEMENT.’ For Lamar, staying true to oneself is paramount; it’s a way to navigate the perilous terrain of celebrity while retaining one’s soul. ‘Most of y’all just envy, but jealousy get you killed,’ he asserts, pointing to the corrosive nature of such emotions.

Yet, it’s in this crucible of fame that Lamar differentiates between ‘black artists and wack artists’, drawing a line between those who use their artistry for upliftment and advocacy and those who succumb to the seduction of shallowness and hollow accolades. ‘ELEMENT.’ becomes an anthem for integrity, for the uncorrupted spirit of art meant to elevate.

The Quintessential Power Line: Making It Look ‘Sexy’

Among the hard-hitting prose and fiery assertions, one particular line encapsulates the essence of the track: ‘If I gotta slap a pussy-ass nigga, I’ma make it look sexy.’ Here is where the bravado of hip-hop merges with the insightful reflection of Lamar’s art. The line embodies the finesse with which he handles confrontation and opposition—turning the act of defense into an assertive statement of style and control.

This motif of staying ‘sexy’ in the midst of struggle not only catches the ear but also embeds itself into the psyche of the audience. It’s a mantra of empowerment, of taking the unavoidable ugliness of battle and transmuting it into something powerful and poised. Lamar’s ‘ELEMENT.’ might just be as much about refining the art of conflict as it is about celebrating the unbroken spirit of his journey.

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