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Meaning of the song ‘ELEMENT.’ by ‘Kendrick Lamar’

Released: 2017

Kendrick Lamar’s “ELEMENT.” is a hard-hitting examination of his dedication to both his art and his roots. In essence, it portrays his unyielding commitment to representing his Compton heritage, his necessity to maintain authenticity, and a critique of those who fail to uphold these principles in the industry.

Right from the jump with “New Kung Fu Kenny,” Lamar establishes a new persona – an undeniable persona of strength and focus. He repeats, “I don’t give a fuck,” signifying his lack of concern for public opinion. He’s willing to face danger or “die” for his cause, indicatingthe deep passion he holds for his craft.

Kendrick speaks about the rough life he’s lived, with lines like “I been stomped out in front of my momma.” He mentions “D.O.T. my enemy,” DOT standing for ‘Determined. Organized. Talented.’, referring perhaps to the struggles of a life in Compton. Kendrick is addressing the harsh realities of his upbringing and challenging anyone to question his resolve.

The chorus of “If I gotta slap a pussy-ass nigga, I’ma make it look sexy…” is all about maintaining grace under pressure, demonstrating strength in the face of adversity, making every action, no matter how harsh, ‘look sexy.’ The line “They won’t take me out my element” is a stand against forces that aim to disturb his focus or authenticity.

His verses about imaginary rich fellas and seven-figure hoes express his distaste for false portrayals of wealth and success. He emphasises realness over everything, pointing out how years in the game have solidified his place – a spot earned through patience and unwavering endurance, not quick, flashy stunts.

“Go to Cuba, that’s the only option” is a nod to Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, who was suspected of faking her son’s death and fleeing to Cuba. Kendrick recognizes this radical level of dedication to one’s art and one’s freedom, even if it means leaving everything else behind.

Kendrick also takes shots at those who pose as ‘real’ but don’t live the life they claim to. He tackles issues of jealousy, deception, and even the exploitation of his city for fame without giving back. His sentiments are clear: Come genuine or not at all. And if you intend to see ‘Candyman’ (a horror figure who appears when his name is spoken), you better be ready to face the reality of Kendrick’s power.

In “Last LP I tried to lift the black artists,” Kendrick is referencing his previous album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” where he addressed social and racial issues. He distinguishes between “black artists and wack artists,” signaling his respect for authenticity and originality above all else. He won’t let anyone take him out of his element, out of who he fundamentally is.

Ultimately, “ELEMENT.” is a statement of resolute realness from Kendrick Lamar, a staunch refusal to let the pressures or falsities of the industry sway his firm commitment to his art, his heritage, and his city. And it’s that unwavering dedication that cements K-Dot’s place at the pinnacle of the hip hop game.

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