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“Swimming Pools” – Kendrick Lamar

Upon first hearing this song I did not think there was any way I could write a post on it.  It sounds just like most of the top 40 swill that you hear today, and I didn’t pay it any mind.

Eventually I heard the song a few times and even though I wasn’t really listening the song stuck.  It had a catchy beat and Kendrick clearly had great flow to his rhymes.  As usual with most of the songs I like I began listening to the song on repeat, and slowly began to realize that there was lyrical content within the lines.  Subtle commentary on the prevalence of alcoholism in the US, our strange acceptance of it, and a clever interlude which plays drunk vs. sober conscience.  Listen closely and read the lyrics and you’ll hear it.

Kendrick Lamar was born and raised in Compton, California.  At the age of eight, in 1995, Lamar witnessed his idols, Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre film the music video for their hit single “California Love,” a critical turning point for Lamar.  He first gained major attention after the release of his fourth mixtape, Overly Dedicated, in 2010.  It was this mixtape, specifically the song “Ignorance Is Bliss” that caused legendary Hip-Hop producer Dr. Dre to seek out Kendrick and produce a studio album.

Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City, Lamar’s first studio album, has taken the Hip-Hop world by storm.  Music critics the world over are calling it the best rap album in decades, and although I am hesitant to agree I have to say that Kendrick is a talented guy.  “Swimming Pools” tackles a tough issue with intelligence and creativity, showing a depth to Lamar’s songs that is uncommon in most rappers.

Now I done grew up
Round some people living their lives in bottles
Granddaddy 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, filling up my cup

Subtle, but powerful.  A difficult balance to strike in today’s world of bitches and drugs and partying, but Lamar pulls it off.  I leave you with some stats:

  • Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current regular drinkers (at least 12 drinks in the past year): 50.9
  • Number of alcoholic liver disease deaths: 15,183
  • Number of alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents and homicides: 24,518

A pool full of liqour, welcome to America.

Lyrics here.

More about Kendrick Lamar here.

More about Alcoholism in the US here.

Swimming Pools (Drank) [Extended Version] - good kid, m.A.A.d city (Deluxe)