A lot has happened since Kendrick Lamar dropped his fourth studio album DAMN. The project will celebrate its five-year anniversary in April and, pandemic aside, the rap world has shifted dramatically since its release. Hip Hop has weathered multiple gut-wrenching deaths, and the very sound of rap has completely shifted. Yet, through it all, Kendrick fans have waited patiently for him to drop something, anything, to no avail.
The absence of Kendrick tunes might also have to do with the fact the Compton lyricist is a tireless perfectionist.
“I owned up to a lot of hours of just listening and studying and throwing thousands of pieces of paper away that were garbage,” Kendrick told Vanity Fair in 2018. “Hours of Top saying, ‘Nah, that ain’t it, you’re better than that,’ or me saying, ‘Nah, that ain’t shit.’”
While a new album from Kung Fu Kenny may finally be drawing near (maybe) in 2022, the enigmatic Cali rapper, known for his reclusivity, has still popped up over these last five years to remind fans he’s still the best in the game before slinking back into the shadows. Here are all the times Kendrick Lamar has appeared on a song since DAMN.’s release.
“Mask Off (Remix)” – Future
Back when mask off meant something entirely different, Future recruited K. Dot to feature on the remix, which arrived after Future crashed Kendrick’s Coachella set to perform the track.
“Doves In The Wind” – SZA
The deep cut-off of SZA’s critical darling Ctrl, Kung Fu Kenny raps strictly about how “good pussy is rather dangerous” during his verse.
“Yeah Right” – Vince Staples
The bass rumbling sound of “Yeah Right” served as the perfect landscape for Kendrick’s spitfire flow, as he raps about eviscerating his competition on this track off Staple’s Big Fish Theory.
“Perfect Pint” – Mike WiLL Made-It
“Cold Summer” – DJ Kay Slay
Kung Fu Kenny opens up DJ Kay Slay’s “Cold Summer” with a verse about how his foes should reevaluate their feelings before speaking ill on his name and closes out his verse by interloping the same flow used on A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin Problems.”
“New Freezer” – Rich The Kid
After hyping up the collab for weeks, Rich The Kid finally ushered in his debut album-era by dropping “New Freezer” in October of 2017. During an interview with Ebro In The Morning, he said he linked up with K Dot simply because he had been working on DAMN in the studio next door and had wandered into Rich’s studio session to inquire about this new album.
“Power” – Rapsody
On the second track off Rapsody’s sophomore album Laila’s Wisdom, Kendrick reflects on his TDE come up, from “sleeping homeless in corners” with his label partners to potentially being considered the “preeminent emcee of the millennium.” He speaks candidly on not necessarily feeling like he deserves all the accolades and affection, especially with so much “wickedness” around him, a theme that’s also heavily present on DAMN.
“The City” – YG Hootie
On YG Hootie’s “The City,” Kendrick raps about his fondness for Compton, and how Cali loves when he’s hustling despite the LAPD trying to prevent him from “making moves.”
“Don’t Do It” – N.E.R.D
Off of N.E.R.D’s first full-length offering since 2010, Kendrick spits about the dangers the media and the police pose to Black people in America, asking frankly “How many more of us gotta see the coroner?”
“Kites” – N.E.R.D
K Dot also appears alongside M.I.A. and A$AP Rocky on the ninth track off N.E.R.D.’s No One Ever Really Dies, pulling from the bible as he urges America to follow the path of God rather than give into evil temptation–another theme discussed on his album DAMN.
“American Dream” – Jeezy
A discussion of the Black experience in America and how it applies to the American Dream, Kendrick reunites with J. Cole on the track, the first time the pair have been together on a song since 2013 when Kendrick was on Cole’s Born Sinner cut “Forbidden Fruit.”
“Hustla’s Story” – Cozz
Kendrick graces the hook and refrain of Cozz’s “Hustla’s Story,” rapping about growing up “in the belly of the beast” of L.A.
“Dedication” – Nipsey Hussle
K. Dot reflects on the trials and tribulations that have come from his pursuit of success on the late Nipsey Hussle’s iconic track “Dedication.”
“Tints” – Anderson .Paak
In an interview with Angie Martinez, Paak said it took Kendrick over a year to write and record the verse for his 2018 single “Tints,” which really brought the track alive as Kung Fu Kenny rapped, “Bitch I’m Kendrick Lamar, respect me from afar/I was made in His image, you call me a god.”
“Wow Freestyle” – Jay Rock
Reuniting with Jay Rock for a buoyant freestyle, K Dot just lets it fly here, rapping off the dome about his old school swagger and how he has no time to rely on others as he’s always on the “bread chase.”
“Mona Lisa” – Lil Wayne
In Lil Wayne’s story of a deceptive woman named “Liz” who arranges to have her boyfriend robbed, Kendrick’s visceral eye for detail shines through on this lengthy Carter V cut as he chomps on the winding instrumental with a spitfire delivery. “Poetry in a pear tree, sweet tone like a hummingbird when she asked him/Did he want to make lovei n a yellow taxi? Never gave two fucks, jumped in the backseat,” he raps.
“The Mantra” – Mike WiLL Made-It
Reuniting again with Mike WiLL Made-it for the Creed II soundtrack, Kendrick raps inspirational bars that compare his trailblazing power to that of a greek myth, as he relies on clever word play with the words “triflin” and “tritan” to describe his talents as the “lightning that made titans,” which also serves as a reference to the Attack On Titan anime.
“Something Dirty/Pic Got Us” – Swizz Beatz
On Swizz Beatz triumphant Poison cut, Kendrick handles the hook, bellowing out that everyone should “back the fuck up” and give Jadakiss and Styles P room to decimate the microphone.
The Black Panther
Need we say more about this epic soundtrack? It was practically a new Kendrick album, reaffirming his place as rap’s most ambitious MC.
“Momma I Hit a Lick” – 2 Chainz
Off of 2 Chainz most introspective album, Kendrick uses his verse on “Momma I Hit a Lick” to contrast Tity Boi’s thoughtful energy, spitting clever braggadocious flexes only he could come up with. “I don’t take pics on a jet, lil n-gga/This shit regular, G5’s all in my backyard,” he raps.
“Under The Sun” – Dreamville
Kendrick merely handles the hook on the soulful opener to Revenge Of The Dreamers III, but gives it his all as he calls out his opps.
“Nile “– Beyoncé
Off Beyonce’s spiritually driven soundtrack to The Lion King, Kendrick speaks on intoxication and overindulgence and uses the “Nile” as a metaphor for his “denial,” rapping about being so intoxicated by the world’s longest river he might just drown it.
“Rearview” – Raphael Saadiq
Kendrick uses the hook on Raphael Saadiq’s “Rearview” to again ruminate on the conflict between the people’s perceptions of him and his own perceptions of himself. “How can I lead the world when I’m scared to try?” he raps.
“Hair Down” – SiR
Kendrick brings a welcomed burst of energy to SiR’s slippery 2019 single. While SiR croons about trying to unwind, Kendrick uses his verse to remind the listener there is a fine line between confidence and vanity. “Hair down like vanity,” he raps. “I got fuck-ups, I got damage fees/I got the gold dust, I got the anesthesia.”
“Look Over Your Shoulder” – Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes was able to snag the sole Kendrick verse of 2020 with “Look Over Your Shoulder,” where Kung Fu Kenny speaks on everything from fame to our collective hopelessness as a nation. It’s a hell of a verse filled with more double entendre’s and metaphors than can be described here.
“family ties” & “range brothers” – Baby Keem
Most Hip Hop fans were somehow impacted by “family ties” and “range brothers.” The goofy “top o’ the morning!” motto Kendrick wailed on the latter became a viral sensation all its own, whereas “family ties” formerly introduced the world to the lyrical prowess of Baby Keem. It also announced Kendrick’s return via a venomous and multi-layered verse that has continued to be dissected by rap heads into 2022.
“Drones” – Terrace Martin
Off of Terrace Martin’s epic album of the same name, Kendrick hops on the track’s chorus to list off the ways technology can’t replace a human connection but does admit it’s all rather “stimulating.”