1 Verse, 1 Hearse #20, Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)
When I first read the title, I thought, oh Kendrick, you’re going to sell out and make a radio track about getting wasted? The T-Minus production credit didn’t help either. Listen to me Kendrick, what happened to the production of Section.80’s THC or Digi+Phonics? I thought, man Interscope changed him. My world fell apart. The Kendrick I knew was gone for about 23 seconds. For 23 seconds, he was a radio rapper rapping about getting wasted when in the past, he was obviously against it. He sold out. Then he came in with the verse. The pool of water I was previously drowning in suddenly turned into a puddle. Kendrick was cool. What a scare. What a hearse verse. Kendrick proved to be the courageous rapper he’s always been. If anything, the record deal only changed him for better. He appealed to both sides of the aisle all on one song. Only he could pull off such a feat.
Kendrick stayed true to himself by giving the track various characters. There’s Kendrick, then there’s the dude telling him to dive into the liquor. By doing this, he doesn’t endorse binge drinking, but he doesn’t alienate his mainstream folks, but he doesn’t disappoint his underground dawgs either. Obviously, Kendrick put a lot of thought into this track. Every line, and every word was meticulously executed. Record deals usually trap artists into making cliche songs about alcohol, drugs, and women. Well Kendrick gave the mainstreamers what they wanted. The thing is, he’s not really getting wasted. “Swimming Pools” is about him folding under the pressure of his peers. He’s still that good kid in a maad city.
Now I done grew up round some people living their life in bottles
Grandaddy had the golden flask
Back stroke every day in Chicago
Some people like the way it feels
Some people wanna kill their sorrows
Some people wanna fit in with the popular
That was my problem
I was in the dark room, loud tunes
Looking to make a vow soon
That I’mma get fucked up, fillin’ up my cup
I see the crowd move
Changing by the minute and the record on repeat
Took a sip, then another sip, then somebody said to me:
The always conscious Kendrick Lamar began by explaining his opposition to alcohol. Lamar reveals that his Grandad had a drinking problem. He remembers him “backstroking” in a pool of liquor. Adding the golden flask is the icing on the cake. Grandad wouldn’t just drink out of a simple flask, he drank out of a golden flask. He took his drinking seriously and he was a pro at it. Drunk people usually put kids in awkward situations. Therefore, Grandad stained Lamar’s view on alcohol. 20 years later, he still dislikes liquor.
Although he’s not the biggest fan of alcohol, he doesn’t judge. Lamar doesn’t demonize the people who like to drink. He gives reasons as to why people like to drink. Some just like it, some do it to forget, and some do it to be popular. Out of the three reasons, the most troubling, if you could say, is probably the 3rd. Peer pressure is evil. The need for acceptance in this society is worrying. That’s why Lamar chose to pick this reason apart. In the two previous reasons, people are in control of their situation. They’re drinking because they like to, or they’re drinking because they want to forget. They’re in control. In the 3rd, the popularity one, they’re letting someone else take control of their lives. So not only is Kendrick telling us to not drink for the sake of popularity, he’s telling us to not do anything for the sake of acceptance. In other words, do you. You can’t say that Kendrick doesn’t take his own advice either. Look at the track he made. He’s playing with millions of dollars and he still stayed true to himself. Most people in these peer pressure situations are playing with…nothing but a high five.
Kendrick has fallen into the popularity trap. “I was in a dark room,” he says. That line is probably one of my favorites because of its cleverness. Kendrick is in a dark room both physically, and mentally. His body is physically in a dark club, and his judgement is completely clouded. You can’t see anything in a dark room, so Kendrick couldn’t see the light, the truth. Therefore, his mind is in a dark place.
At this point, he’s at the point of no return. He’s made a vow to get drunk. Usually vows are related to marriage and marriages are meant to last forever, hence the “’til death do us part” clause. Reading between the lines, I feel like he is being initiated into a gang. He’s made a “vow” to get drunk. Furthermore, he’s fallen into the trap and there’s no going back. Now that he’s given in to the pressure, his peers can do whatever they want with him as long as they dangle acceptance in his face.
He starts to drink and the crowd starts to move. Once again, another subtle double entendre. The crowd is literally moving since it’s a club. Kendrick has now started drinking, so he might be a little buzzed and the world has started to spin on him. Time has changed on him as well. Everything is moving by the minute instead of the second because time flies when you’re having fun. Now Kendrick is starting to feel comfortable. But, the problem is, he’s only sippin’. Just when Lamar was starting to feel accepted another dude comes up to him, and raises the bar. Dammit. But this is what happens when you put your life in other people’s hands by chasing acceptance.
Kendrick proved that he deserves to be one of the best rappers in the game. Everything from the structure to the message was well executed. Most importantly, the message was incredibly delivered. It wasn’t in your face and it didn’t attack drinkers. Kendrick was very thoughtful in his approach. This song was mostly aimed at binge drinkers. If you’re diving into a pool of alcohol, you have a problem. Also, if you do things because of peer pressure, you have a problem. Like I said earlier, I’m fascinated at how this track turned out. There’s hundreds of songs out there about getting tipsy, but none like this. I could bump this in the whip next to Future, or I could bump this next to Tupac. Both work, and that’s why Kendrick deserves the keys to the 20th edition of the Killer Hearse. Before MADD comes knocking, I was driving the whole time. Drunk driving is BADD.