The 30 Best Kendrick Lamar Songs

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Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest artists of all time with the closest to perfect discography we have ever seen. After the last tape, I think it's time to keep it 8 more than 92 and rank his 30 best songs ever.

TDE Records / Interscope / Via media.giphy.com

30."Cartoon & Cereal"

Kendrick Perfoming

This is a Kendrick cult classic and only right this has a spot on here.

Despite the song being so abstract, it is very catchy and sadly is a Good Kid, M.A.A.D City loosie due to sampling clearances.

The "glitch" part from Gunplay is one of my favorite things ever from one of the best feature verses in hip-hop.

I personally think it would have been known as the best feature to ever be on a Kendrick song if the feature on song #3 of this list didn't body that song the way they did.

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29."The Heart Part 5"

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When Kendrick Lamar dropped this on May 8 of this year, it felt like the earth stopped. This was the first Kendrick Lamar solo song we heard in five years, and every single lyric is so relative to everything happening to our society. This was hands down the best music video of 2022 so far, and honestly, will be still at the end of the year. The jarring juxtaposition of deep faking O. J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle will be studied in classrooms by the end of the decade.

28."Father Time"

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Kendrick knows how to touch the souls of those that listen to him by making such relatable music. Kendrick's father tried his best to keep Kendrick away from certain violence in his community and make sure he was a "Good Kid." Now that he is Mr. Morale and is present in one of his first therapy sessions, he recognizes the impact his father played on his life.Sampha's angelic voice, great production, and great lyrics are shown on display elevating the track.

27."Good Kid"

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How does one survive in the hood?Kendrick tells us how he did it in "Good Kid." Pharrell Williams produced this wonderful beat for this record. The rap from Dot may be an ugly truth but a truth that needs to be heard.

26."Mortal Man"

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Any song that features James Fauntleroy deserves to be on a list but "Mortal Man" is a powerful outro that features a powerful interview clip from rapper Tupac Shakur.At the end of each song of TPAB, Kendrick says, “I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence.” We finally see why he says that during the poem he recites at the end of the song and tells us what "to pimp a butterfly" really means.

25."HUMBLE."

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The most underrated diss song in the history of hip-hop is this one for me.Kendrick decided with DAMN. that he was going to make a more commercial album, and this was the perfect lead single to do just that. The simple hook of this song with the perfect music video to go with it made this song dominate social media for the entire year when it dropped.‘HUMBLE.’ was Kendrick's first US #1 hit, believe it or not.

24."Untitled 2 | 06.23.2014"

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Untitled Unmastered is the Christmas gift we didn't ask for but ended up being the gift we use the most. The best song on that gift is this one right here.

This song is so much like the others on To Pimp a Butterfly. The same message of Kendrick comparing how to navigate life as a rap star with money and Compton native is apparent throughout. The beat is so beautiful, and the jazz strings in the background sound so groovy and make the song stand out.

23."Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe"

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This song may be the only song on Good Kid, M.A.A.D City that doesn't tell the story of the album, but that doesn't deny its greatness. The song is one of Kendrick's biggest songs, and the remix featuring Jay-Z is Lamar's version of Drake's "Talk Up" in terms of rapping with the Goat before establishing into his own.The throne was officially Kendrick's to take if he wanted, and y'all can tell me in the comments if you believe he took it.

22."The Heart Part 4"

kendrick performing at Grammys

My favorite Kendrick other than "storytelling Kendrick" is "irked Kendrick." When Kendrick is fed up and has something on his mind, it leads to some of the best moments in hip-hop we have seen. This is a prime example.

The Russell Westbrook bar is one of my favorite bars ever by Dot, and nothing in rap brings more excitement out of me than when the greatest rapper alive at the moment tells people he's exactly that without caring what people think.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

21."The Art of Peer Pressure"

photo op at BET awards

The cinematic nature of this song is what makes it stand out so much. Everyone has hanged with their homies or homegirls and been peer pressured, and your friends might have succeeded, despite you not wanting to give in. The beat gets more eerie as the song goes on and makes me as the listener more anxious.

Phil Mccarten / Reuters

20."Mother I Sober"

Kendrick Lamar backstage at Spotify

The penmanship in this song is the best we are going to see in 2022.

The rawness Kendrick displays is strong enough to break generational curses. This is a Pulitzer-level song itself, and the third verse when Kendrick screams gets me emotional.A song about Lamar hearing his mom be physically abused and not being able to do anything about it, due to him being a kid, will be a song we look at for years to come. The song will be known as one that healed a bunch of homes of grown adults who experienced seeing physical abuse growing up.

Antony Jones / Antony Jones / Getty Images for Spotify

19."How Much a Dollar Cost"

Kendrick performing Halo

This was Barack Obama's favorite song of 2015, and off one listen, you can understand why.In the track, we hear how a homeless man is trying to persuade Kendrick to give grace by giving him a dollar, and Kendrick in real time is refusing. Once the homeless man claims that he is God, Kendrick has to question his selfishness, if he fails the test of life, and won't be accepted to heaven. "How much does a dollar cost?" is what he is left to think about.

Kevork Djansezian / Reuters

18."The Blacker the Berry"

Kendrick from Compton

Lamar calling himself repeatedly through this song “the biggest hypocrite of 2015,” has always made me want to hear him explain more about his reasoning, despite him saying why in the last bar of the song.Lamar is such a powerful artist who uses the rap form to spread such a powerful message that it made the lyrics even more meaningful knowing that it comes from him of all people. Lamar is not a clout chaser like some people in the age of social media activists. And in 2015, when this song dropped, especially after Trayvon Martin's death in 2012, it made a black teenager like me go protest and help lead demonstrations. K-Dot challenging his "hypocrisy" made me make sure I do my best to not have any of my own.

Mark Makela / Corbis via Getty Images

17."Backseat Freestyle"

Kendrick in Black Hippie Gearhttps://giphy.com/gifs/kendricklamar-kendrick-lamar-swimming-pools-drank-xT9IgC1KpKpPSFox4Q

In my eyes, before there was the infamous "Control" verse, it was "Backseat Freestyle" as the song challenging other rappers in the game to step their bars up with very boastful rhymes.

I'm always shocked hearing how producer Hit-Boy says this beat was meant to be an R&B song for singer Ciara.

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16."DUCKWORTH."

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I always imagined that once this song dropped that Hollywood's best directors were blowing up K-Dot's phone, throwing buckets of money to Lamar of making a movie based on this song.The song tells the tale of an encounter between Kendrick's father and Top Dawg. Top Dawg robbed the KFC Mr. DuckWorth worked at, and if things went south, I wonder where Kendrick will be now.

15."Ronald Reagan Era"

Kendrick performing in the UK

With the title of the track, you should know this song will be about the drug influx in LA and Kendrick Lamar's views of watching that growing up. Lamar is from Compton and got to see firsthand how the crack epidemic ruined certain aspects of his neighborhood as a child.

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14."A.D.H.D."

Kendrick at BET Awards

This song is a thoughtful record that questions why teenagers do certain things they do, such as drink or smoke or party.

Funny enough, this song is the first song that comes on when I plug my phone into the AUX. The majority of the time, I don't skip the song just to feel the nostalgia it brings. I even close my eyes to imagine myself riding in a 1970 Cadillac down south Figueroa Street in Los Angeles.

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13."Wesley's Theory"

Kendrick at Coachella

“Every n***a is a star.”

Hearing this song's bass line, punchy verses, and production, in general, is simply magical. This track is an amazing intro to an album that will go down as one of the best intros of the decade. George Clinton turns this track from great to legendary.

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12."FEAR."

Kendrick receiving an award

This song tells a tale of Lamar at the ages of 7, 17, and 27, and I don't know if it's PTSD from my childhood (listen to the song and you'll get what I'm saying) or the beautiful way he explores three different periods of his life, but this song gives me chills every time.

The anaphoric use of the words "I beat yo ass" for eight minutes and the vocal changes he uses in this song are top-tier art that only Kendrick Lamar can pull off.

Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images

11."HiiiPoWeR"

J Cole and Kendrick

"So Appalled" is my favorite song on Kanye's West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, so when I heard Kendrick Lamar's debut single contained a sample of it while being produced by upcoming rapper J. Cole, I was already a believer in Lamar. This felt like the beginning of a new era of hip-hop.

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10."Swimming Pools (Drank)"

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"Swimming Pools" was a bunch of people's mainstream introduction to Kendrick, and the song is a banger. The banger was heard worldwide at every party and club, but the message about how his grandfather's alcoholism is one to reflect on.

9."These Walls"

Kendrick Lamar

The song is about women's sugar walls and how a certain woman who is dealing with her man "Dave" (who we find out more about later on this list) who's facing a life sentence has relations with a certain famous rapper to get over her separation anxiety. I wonder who the rapper is.

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8."The Heart Pt. 2"

kendrick Lamar perfoming

Kendrick wanted people to "feel" him on this song, and that's exactly what we did.The first song released on Overly Dedicated is a masterclass. Hearing the song in 2022 is so ironic, because one of the bars says, "And if my record never breaks, I still won't break my promise / I promise to keep it honest." You can tell how sincere he was with that statement, and he eventually had more success than he ever imagined with being a multiple-time Grammy winner and being the top guy in the last decade.

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7."DNA."

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"DNA.” is a unique song that was elevated by a wonderful music video.

There are other great songs on DAMN. that are more acclaimed by K-Dot fans, such as "HUMBLE." or DUCKWORTH.," but this song is the premier song to me.

"DNA." is technically the first song we hear on DAMN., and he uses "DNA." as a juxtaposition of the success and riches he has now earned, but his "DNA." is also tracing back to slavery. Lamar has a wonderful way to make his listeners think about our privilege while making enjoyable music we can listen to at all times.

6."Rigamortis"

Festival KDot

"Rigamortis" is the song that let it be known that Kendrick will be a force to reckon with. If you want to show someone any song on Section.80 as a reference to listening to the album, this is the one. Kendrick admitted this song took him three takes to do, and you can see why. The braggadocios and dauntless bars scream star in the making.

Anyone who can rap this song word for word should look into a career in rap.

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5."Alright"

2015 Riot with K-Dot Lyrics

This song rightfully was associated with many Black Lives Matter protests over the years with a very empathic hook and will go down as the most illustrating song of the past 20 years. If I was ranking songs on their impact, this would for sure be #1.

The Pharrell-produced track came at the right time as it made us "woosah" during a time when tensions were high around the globe. The song was truly an era-defining moment during a place and time in our country I hope we don't experience again.

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4."u"

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Kendrick is not afraid of being himself, and we truly get a full glimpse of that in the song "u." Kendrick did something we saw only once from him on BJ the Chicago Kid's "His Pain," crying while rapping, but still telling a beautiful story."U" is such an intense song that Kendrick pulled deep down from his childhood to that current moment to make one of his most vulnerable songs to date. The second and third verses of this song are so powerful that they will make a gangster cry. It's one song that if you've never heard it before, you should at least once in your lifetime. It's very telling that a song like this is before the #5 song on this list. Despite the content that doesn't go away that quickly, we should know eventually everything's going to be "alright."

3."Money Trees"

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You might be able to tell my favorite Kendrick Lamar album by the last three songs. "Money Trees" is an absolute banger. Jay Rock's performance is a top 10 feature of the 2010s. "Money Trees" is the second most streamed 6+ minute song in Spotify history for good reason.

Kendrick Lamar perfectly tells us in this song that material things don't make trauma and pain we experienced in our lives go away. Kendrick's ability to pick apart certain common man struggles and bring nuance to them is perfect. Anna Wise on the hook is perfect as well.

2."M.A.A.D City"

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"My angry adolescence divided” and/or “My angels on angel dust” is a fan favorite tracks and the one song in Lamar's discography that I'm for certain will get everyone at a festival jumping and singing word for word.

"M.A.A.D City" is a song full of chaos that slowly builds up and gets more and more hype as the song goes on until we hear the eventual dispirited outro that tells the whole story of the album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.

1."Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst"

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Undoubtedly, this is the #1 song.

“Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst” is two songs with one that tells one of the best stories we've seen in hip-hop. The first perspective in this song comes from Dave's brother after Dave was killed in swimming pools; the second one is Keisha's sister from Section.80's "Keisha's Song," and the last one is Kendrick's perspective.

This is modern day poetry at its finest, despite a simple beat. Kendrick's storytelling ability makes me captivated the entire 12 minutes. The production on this track is an excellent example of the musicality in hip-hop. Taking the Bill Withers sample and turning it into this is amazing.

The poignancy of the song and it being a true story makes it his best song ever. Also, at Day N Vegas, Kendrick ended his set with this song and said it's his favorite ever, so if you don't take my word of the legit-ness of the song, take Dot's.

Missed any songs?

Let me know what other songs should be on here and what songs you're surprised to see.