Friday, March 7, 2014

"Backwards"- Kendrick Lamar & Tame Impala

"I feel relentless," "King" Kendrick Lamar snarls over a bed of lush strings and palpitating drum beats reconstructed from Tame Impala's 2012 psych tour-de-force "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”. Leave it to Kendrick to best describe his pace since he dropped the game-changing good kid, m.A.A.d. city in 2012. He could've comfortably rested on his laurels, taken a year off to enjoy the immense spoils his major label debut afforded. Instead he soaked the entire rap game in gasoline and struck a match, then took the BET Cypher to a cataclysmic new level. It seemed as though the only "fun" he was having in 2013 was sliding in on the chintzy beat of Schoolboy Q's "Collard Greens" from Oxymoron. But even then he was promising to swipe girlfriends and doing bilingual double-time in his lightning verse.

That relentlessness is put into 20/20 focus late in Lamar's first verse when he lets everyone know, "this is what I live for." Rapping isn't what he's doing in between commercial spots or movie cameos. It's his lifeblood carrying him towards "immortality." And even if he reaches it, with his workmanlike nature he'll start the race over. He'll appear with Imagine Dragons just to prove traditional rap can't pin him in. He'll pop up on a Sci-Fi film soundtrack and turn what was once effusive into something much more ferocious. Now Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker's tender coos aren't the focal point, they're a dire break from a verbal barrage. "I got my hopes up again, oh no... not again," Parker whispers from the bottom of a psilocybin canyon. That's all Kendrick Lamar does circa 2014 and he's yet to disappoint.

The Divergent soundtrack, which also features pairings between A$AP Rocky/Gesaffelstein and Chance the Rapper/Pia Mia is out March 11 and you can hear "Backwards" now through Pitchfork Advance.

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