“United in Grief” by Kendrick Lamar
One way of understanding the title of this song (“United in Grief”), theoretically, is as it pointing to the notion that we are all suffering in one way or another. The first verse is really lengthy, and therein Kendrick touches upon a number of different topics. And honestly what all he’s saying in the said passage, bother specifically and comprehensively on isn’t that easy to ascertain. But the latter two verses are more generally understandable.
The second focuses on the vocalist’s romantic relationship with a particular lady he met on tour. He sympathized with her due to certain hardships she endured in life, such as a half-assed mom, a father who’s locked down and a brother who was murdered. And of course Lamar, himself being from the ‘hood, has some horror stories of his own, so it’s like he also emphasizes with her. Owing to this, they form a rapport, with sex serving as a means to mitigate “the pain away”. This is probably where “United in Grief”, the song’s title, emanates from.
Meanwhile the third verse features Kendrick bragging, though not necessarily doing so simply for bragging’s sake. Rather what he’s getting it as, having once been impoverished himself, is that now he’s enjoying the American Dream, so to speak. And not only that but his success has proven to be multi-generational, as manifested by the come-up of his little cousin, fellow rapper Baby Keem.
“I grieve Different”
And another section of the song that should be mentioned is the refrain, where the rapper repeats that he “grieve(s) different”. That assertion would obviously have something to do with the title. And all lyrics considered, perhaps what K-Dot is saying in this regard is that the way he deals with sadness is by going out and buying a lot of expensive sh*t.
As for the chorus, it is more overtly braggadocious. Lamar is letting some other rappers who aren’t on his level know that whereas they may front like they made it big, he was already a multi-millionaire before the age of 30. But he does express some humbleness later in the passage, i.e. a concern that one day his opps will ‘hold him captive’.
So with all of that noted, besides the other stuff not mentioned in this post, this isn’t the easiest song to derive a thesis sentiment from. “United in Grief” is the opening track on “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers”, which may explain why certain parts of the first verse read so helter-skelter, if you will.
However, there are two discernible ideas amidst all the various topics presented throughout. One is something like Kendrick Lamar perceiving this as a troubled world that we live in. And secondly, he personally finds satisfaction in spending money on pricey, showy items.
Release of “United in Grief”
This song was released on 13 May 2022 as the opening track on the playlist of Kendrick’s fifth studio album (“Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers”). The labels that backed the dropping of this song are Aftermath, Top Dawg, Interscope and BMG.
Credits for “United in Grief”
The composition team behind this track, i.e. those who are credited as both writers and producers of “United in Grief”, consists of Kendrick Lamar and the following:
- Tim Maxey
- Duval Anthony
- Beach Noise (Matt Schaeffer and Johnny Kosich)
Sam Dew also served as an additional writer.