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Meaning of ‘euphoria’ by ‘Kendrick Lamar’

Released: 2024

In “Euphoria,” rap prodigy Kendrick Lamar delves deep into his perception of the rap game, throwing some major shade while expressing his distress and disapproval of certain aspects of the industry. The crux of this joint lies in its stories of betrayal, deceit, hypocrisy, and lack of authenticity in the music business.

‘Euphoria’ kicks off with a scathing critique of the music industry’s superficiality (“Them superpowers getting neutralized, I can only watch in silence / The famous actor we once knew is lookin’ paranoid and now spiralin'”). This sets the tone for the entire piece, establishing Kendrick’s disenchantment with the industry’s frequent betrayals and lack of genuine artistry.

In his verses, Kendrick demonstrates his lyrical prowess by effortlessly describing his frustrations and experiences with the rap industry. His disdain for the industry’s lack of genuineness is apparent when he raps, “You’re not a rap artist, you a scam artist with the hopes of being accepted”, understood to be directed at Drake, explicitly calling out those who he believes are more focused on fame and fortune rather than the art of hip-hop itself.

Throughout the track, Kendrick uses his knack for storytelling to detail the struggle of maintaining authenticity in an industry that often rewards surface-level performances and branding. Lines like “I make music that electrify ’em, you make music that pacify ’em” express his commitment to creating meaningful music that sparks conversation and thought, as opposed to watered-down tracks designed to appease the masses. This too, is understood to be a diss towards Drake in their ongoing beef.

Kendrick also sends a powerful message to fellow rappers about being responsible for their lyrics and their actions. In his line “Everybody wanna be demon ’til they get chipped by your throwaway”, Kendrick challenges the notion of artists glamorizing violence and street life in their lyrics, only to shirk responsibility when those words incite real-world consequences.

‘Euphoria’ serves as a biting critique of the state of hip-hop, with Kendrick dropping truth bombs about the lack of authenticity, the glorification of violence, and the prioritization of fame and money over art. Despite the harshness of his words, Kendrick’s intent isn’t to break down the genre but to inspire its improvement, staying true to his belief that real hip-hop should challenge, not pacify.

Finally, the repetition of the phrase “We don’t wanna hear you say ‘nigga’ no more” at the end of the track drives home the critical point Kendrick is making, here once again it’s understood that it’s directed at Drake, a diss towards his mixed race heritage. One could also consider it to be a call for a deeper sense of responsibility and respect in the use of language in the hip-hop industry. Overall, ‘Euphoria’ is Kendrick Lamar blowing off steam, expressing his frustration, yet standing as an advocate for authentic, thoughtful, and responsible hip-hop. It reminds us of the power hip-hop has when handled with care and respect – a power that can create not just hits but significant cultural conversations.

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