Best Kendrick Lamar Songs

Updated on April 30, 2024

Kendrick Lamar, from Compton, California, has had a profound impact on the music industry with his exceptional talent and deep lyrics.

His songs are powerful narratives exploring societal complexities, race, and identity, not mere musical pieces. In this article, we will delve into the tracks that encapsulate Lamar's evolution as an artist.

From "To Pimp a Butterfly" to "DAMN.," each song here embodies a chapter in Lamar's artistic growth, defying norms and offering intellectually stimulating music. So, let's delve into Kendrick Lamar's best works.

1. "Alright" (2015)

Album: To Pimp a Butterfly

Producer: Pharrell Williams, Sounwave

"Alright" is a socially charged hip-hop anthem by Kendrick Lamar, released in 2015 as part of his album "To Pimp a Butterfly".

It's a testament to Kendrick Lamar's genius and the enduring power of art in tumultuous times. Beyond Pharrell's production brilliance, it became a rallying cry during Black Lives Matter protests.

Chanted on streets, it encapsulated the fight against injustice and offered hope amidst chaos. Kendrick Lamar's subtle messaging turned it into a powerful political statement, a beacon of hope, and a symbol of unyielding determination.

2. "HUMBLE." (2017)

Album: DAMN.

Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It

"HUMBLE." by Kendrick Lamar is a bold hip-hop track released in 2017 as part of his album "DAMN." With its mesmerizing trap beat and Lamar's confident swagger, the track became an instant hit.

Influenced by classic hip-hop, it boasts a memorable chorus and a pulsating beat by Mike Will Made It. Despite lyrical controversies, especially regarding women's portrayal, the song remains captivating due to its irresistible piano hook and Kendrick's straightforward style.

It showcases Kendrick's talent to craft resonating music, even amid critique, standing as a testament to his artistry.

3. "King Kunta" (2015)

Album: To Pimp a Butterfly

Producer: Sounwave, Terrace Martin

"King Kunta" stands as a testament to Kendrick Lamar's mastery of hip-hop. Lamar's lyrics exude sharp confidence, asserting his supremacy in the industry.

With its groovy bass and catchy hook reminiscent of '70s funk, the song blends nostalgia with contemporary flair. It's a vibrant celebration of African American culture and resilience, exploring themes of pride and self-empowerment.

Lamar's storytelling and musical innovation in "King Kunta" make it a standout track on "To Pimp a Butterfly", crucial to the album's Platinum success.

4."DNA." (2017)

Album: DAMN.

Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It

"DNA." is an intense hip-hop track by Kendrick Lamar from his 2017 album "DAMN."

The song showcases Lamar's rapid-fire flow and intricate wordplay. With themes of identity, heritage, and resilience, the track explores Lamar's personal journey. Producer Mike Will Made It crafted chaos, resulting in a blend of electronic noise and samples from Fox News and Rick James.

The explosive beat and Lamar's intense delivery made it a global hit, featured in commercials, pregame intros, and echoing worldwide streets.

5. "i" (2014)

Album: To Pimp a Butterfly

Producer: Rahki

"i" is a empowering hip-hop anthem by Kendrick Lamar, released in 2014.

This Lamar's favorite track from "To Pimp a Butterfly" follows his journey from depression to euphoria. Despite life's challenges, the message rings clear: rise above, stay resilient, and keep moving forward.

With its positive message and uplifting beats, "i" serves as a motivational anthem, encouraging listeners to embrace their worth and face life's challenges with confidence.

6. "Swimming Pools (Drank)" (2012)

Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city

Producer: T-Minus

"Swimming Pools (Drank)" is a hip-hop track by Kendrick Lamar, released in 2012 as part of his album "good kid, m.A.A.d city". The song explores themes of alcoholism, peer pressure, and self-control.

Its catchy chorus, "Pour up, drank, head shot, drank", captures the temptation and consequences of excessive drinking.

The track provides a critical commentary on substance abuse, making it both a cautionary tale and a reflection on societal issues.

7. "Money Trees" (feat. Jay Rock) (2012)

Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city

Producer: DJ Dahi

"Money Trees" is Kendrick Lamar's lyrical and musical masterpiece. Lamar delves into hidden ambitions with eloquence, backed by Anna Wise's captivating hook and Jay Rock's impactful cameo.

The song's iconic line "Ya bish" resonates globally. Produced by DJ Dahi, the warped Beach House sample provides a mesmerizing backdrop.

The track's hypnotic beat and infectious hook create an ethereal composition celebrated worldwide. Reflecting on financial struggles and aspirations, Lamar contrasts materialism and spirituality.

"Money Trees" is a timeless hip-hop anthem, solidifying its status as a contemporary masterpiece.

8. "ELEMENT." (2017)

Album: DAMN.

Producer: James Blake, Sounwave, Ricci Riera, Terrace Martin

"ELEMENT." is a powerful hip-hop track by Kendrick Lamar from his album "DAMN".

This competitive rap track boldly proclaims Lamar's superiority in the rap game. Produced by James Blake, "ELEMENT." highlights Lamar's raw energy and confidence, transforming each boast into an indisputable reality.

He challenges anyone, warning he'll lyrically dismantle them with style. The track's intense beat and Lamar's sharp wordplay make "ELEMENT." a global hit, reaffirming Lamar's position as a rap icon.

9. "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" (2012)

Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city

Producer: Sounwave, DJ Dahi

"Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" from Lamar's 2012 album "good kid, m.A.A.d city" conveys resilience and self-confidence.

It urges listeners to maintain positivity amid negativity, embodying authenticity despite challenges. With smooth production and a catchy hook, the song became an anthem, reflecting self-assurance.

Lamar's confident delivery and empowering lyrics resonate, marking it as a defining moment in his discography.

10. "XXX." (feat. U2) (2017)

Album: DAMN.

Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It, DJ Dahi, Sounwave

"XXX." is a track by Kendrick Lamar from his album "DAMN".

This track combines a fast-paced trap beat and a laidback acoustic backdrop, creating a unique listening experience. Adding to the intrigue, U2's unexpected feature enhances the song's depth and coolness as it ends."XXX."

explores the intricate topics of violence, race relations, and societal challenges in America. Lamar's sharp lyrics and intense delivery reflect both his personal experiences and the broader societal issues.

11. "M.A.A.D City" (feat. MC Eiht) (2012)

Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city

Producer: Sounwave, THC

In "m.A.A.d. city", Kendrick Lamar showcases his aggressive energy, intricate lyrics, and fierce flows.

The track immerses listeners in a world of paranoia and chaos, reflecting the harsh realities of urban life.

Lamar's collaboration with MC Eiht bridges generational gaps, highlighting the consistent struggles faced by those trapped in the crossfire of capitalism and state intervention.

The song's energy, production, and storytelling stand out in Lamar's discography, encapsulating his upbringing in a challenging neighborhood.

12. "The Blacker the Berry" (2015)

Album: To Pimp a Butterfly

Producer: Boi-1da, Koz, Terrace Martin

"The Blacker the Berry" unleashes Kendrick Lamar's pent-up emotions, channeling his rage and frustration through seething lyrics: "You hate me, don't you? You hate my people".

Lamar explores the complexities of being black in America, confronting issues of prejudice and discrimination. The title plays on "the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice", turning it into a statement about embracing blackness and acknowledging its struggles.

The wailing sirens and crashing drums in "The Blacker the Berry" create a riotous atmosphere, urging listeners to rise against oppression.

It's a powerful anthem, capturing the struggles of black people in 2015 and boldly addressing racial injustice and identity.

13. "LOYALTY." (feat. Rihanna) (2017)

Album: DAMN.

Producer: DJ Dahi, Sounwave, Terrace Martin

Kendrick Lamar's "LOYALTY.", featuring Rihanna from his 2017 album "DAMN.", showcases his versatility as an artist.

Lamar demonstrates his ability to blend deep lyricism with mainstream appeal in this track. Rihanna enhances the pop-hit elements, while Lamar's dynamic style shines through his acrobatic cadence.

Lamar and Rihanna question loyalty's authenticity amid temptation and fame, portraying challenges in maintaining trust in a distracted, uncertain world.

"LOYALTY." stands as a testament to Lamar's mastery, seamlessly combining depth and entertainment in his music.

14. "Rigamortus" (2011)

Album: Section.80

Producer: Willie B

In "Rigamortus", Kendrick Lamar displays remarkable talent, delivering rapid-fire lyrics with a double-time flow over a jazz-infused beat.

His tongue-twisting rhymes and rapid-fire delivery demonstrate his mastery of both lyrics and flow.

Recorded in only three takes, "Rigamortus" catapulted Kendrick Lamar into the spotlight, leading to opportunities such as touring with Drake and securing a deal with Interscope.

The title "Rigamortus" metaphorically underscores Lamar's relentless determination and rap prowess, marking it as a standout in his discography.

15. “A.D.H.D.” (2011)

Album: Section.80 

Producer: Sounwave

"A.D.H.D.", a standout track from Kendrick Lamar's 2011 album "Section.80".

It explores the theme of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.) and its profound impact on society. Set against a dreamy, hazy production, Lamar's introspective delivery explores the challenges of young individuals dealing with distractions, addiction, and life's overwhelming pressures.

Capturing youthful restlessness, the song provides profound commentary on modern culture, resonating deeply with listeners.

16. “Sing About Me (I'm Dying of Thirst)” (2012)

Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city

Producer: Like of Pac Div, Skhye Hutch

"Sing About Me (I'm Dying of Thirst)" stands out as a track from Kendrick Lamar's 2012 album "good kid, m.A.A.d city."

Divided into two parts and explored from various perspectives, the song delves into complex themes, addressing mortality, violence, and the struggles of urban life.

Each line resembles a separate diary entry, offering a unique perspective. Lamar skillfully crafts a multifaceted narrative, delving into the viewpoints of friends and family impacted by violence. His storytelling shines, reflecting on death's impact and the search for meaning amid life's chaos.

Despite its depth, the song flows effortlessly, highlighting Lamar's lyrical skill. 

17. “Mother I Sober” (feat. Beth Gibbons) (2022)

Album: Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers

Producer: Bēkon, Sounwave, J.LBS

"Mother I Sober", released in 2022, is a reflective sequel to Kendrick Lamar's 2015 track "u".

Kendrick Lamar reflects on his roles as an artist, father, and son, contemplating his journey to wholeness. The song showcases a heartfelt conversation between Kendrick, his mother, and the audience, conveying his inner turmoil and emotions.

He delves into his mother's trauma, his own infidelity, and feelings of guilt, making it one of his most personal tracks.

The song's quiet moments reverberate with undeniable power, revealing Kendrick's brilliance and unfiltered sincerity.

18. “Westside, Right on Time” (feat. Young Jeezy) (2012)

Album: Westside, Right On Time

Producer: Canei Finch

"Westside, Right on Time" is a 2012 West Coast anthem by Kendrick Lamar and Young Jeezy, combining vintage rap glamour with a modern touch.

Produced by Canei Finch, the track features a soulful live-sampled beat.

Kendrick and Jeezy's verses celebrate Westside legends with a compelling yet laid-back vibe. Kendrick's seamless blend of past and present lends the song a timeless quality.

His collaboration with Southern icon Jeezy elevates it, marking one of Kendrick's standout partnerships.

19. “Backseat Freestyle” (2012)

Album: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

Producer: Hit-Boy

"Backseat Freestyle," a standout track from Kendrick Lamar's 2012 album "good kid, m.A.A.d city", showcases his exceptional lyrical skills.

Influenced by Eminem, Lamar depicts his 16-year-old self with raw ambition and determination in his rhymes. The repetitive chorus, emphasizing the desire for money, power, and respect, adds to the track's intensity.

The energetic vibe of the song is enhanced by Hit-Boy's versatile beat, originally made for Ciara, enabling Lamar to effortlessly experiment with different tempos and vocal styles.

Despite its simplicity, the song's bold lyrics, unapologetic bravado, and confident delivery create a highly entertaining addition to Lamar's repertoire, capturing the essence of youthful exuberance and ambition.

In summary, Kendrick Lamar's musical legacy is marked by his exceptional storytelling, lyrical skill, and steadfast authenticity.

The songs discussed in this article represent just a glimpse of his immense talent and influence on the hip-hop landscape. From thought-provoking tracks like "Alright" and "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst" to energetic anthems like "Backseat Freestyle" and "HUMBLE.," Lamar's versatility knows no bounds.

His ability to tackle complex themes, deliver powerful messages, and craft unforgettable melodies has solidified his status as one of the greatest artists of our time.

Kendrick Lamar's best songs not only entertain but also challenge, inspire, and resonate, making him a true icon in the realm of music.