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"King Kunta" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar, taken from his third album, To Pimp a Butterfly (2015). It was released as the album's third single on March 9, 2015.

"King Kunta"
KingKunta-promo.jpg
Single by Kendrick Lamar
from the album To Pimp a Butterfly
Released March 24, 2015 (2015-03-24)
Recorded 2014
Genre
Length 3:54
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Kendrick Lamar singles chronology
"The Blacker the Berry"
(2015)
"King Kunta"
(2015)
"Bad Blood"
(2015)
"The Blacker the Berry"
(2015)
"King Kunta"
(2015)
"Bad Blood"
(2015)
Music video
"King Kunta" on YouTube

Contents

Writing and compositionEdit

"King Kunta" is a reference to the archetypal rebellious slave Kunta Kinte,[2] the basis of the main character from the Alex Haley novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The song also contains references to Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart. The song contains an interpolation of "Get Nekkid" (2000), written by Johnny Burns and performed by Mausberg; resung lyrics from "Smooth Criminal" (1987), written and performed by Michael Jackson; elements of the 1974 James Brown song "The Payback", written by Brown, Fred Wesley, and John Starks; and a sample from the 1994 song "We Want the Funk", written and performed by Ahmad Lewis.[3] Background vocals are provided by Whitney Alford.

Critical receptionEdit

"King Kunta" was placed at number seven on Rolling Stone's "50 Best Songs of 2015" list, with the editors commenting, "The fiercest and most funkadelic track on To Pimp a Butterfly takes aim at everything from Lamar's haters to "the power that be." We already knew Kendrick was a great lyricist; turns out he's kind of a badass, too."[4] Additionally, Pitchfork ranked the song at number four on its "The 100 Best Tracks of 2015" list.[5] Village Voice named "King Kunta" the second-best single released in 2015 on their annual year-end critics' poll, Pazz & Jop.[6] It came in 2nd on the annual Triple J Hottest 100 for 2015.[7]

Music videoEdit

The song's music video was filmed in Compton, California. Lamar stated in an interview with New York City radio station Hot 97 that the majority of the people in the video are friends of his who still reside in Compton. The video was directed by Director X, who explained to Complex that the visual to "King Kunta" was originally inspired by "Still D.R.E.", a classic in the West Coast video canon. "King Kunta" also borrows ideas from 2Pac and Dr. Dre's "California Love" video. In the beginning of "California Love", 'Pac goes to the Compton Swap Meet to look for some clothes to wear to the party later that night. In "King Kunta", Lamar gets on top of the Swap Meet and raps to an adoring crowd below. Wal-Mart has officially purchased the Swap Meet, so the video is both Lamar's shout-out to 'Pac & Dre and a "goodbye party" to the Compton institution.[8] The video premiered on Vevo and YouTube on April 1, 2015.[9]

Live performancesEdit

Lamar has performed "King Kunta" at every show on the Damn tour.[10]

ChartsEdit

Chart (2015–16) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[11] 32
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[12] 15
Belgium Urban (Ultratop Flanders)[13] 4
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[14] 2
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[15] 52
France (SNEP)[16] 80
Ireland (IRMA)[17] 47
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[18] 70
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[19] 24
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[20] 90
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 56
US Billboard Hot 100[22] 58
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[23] 20
US Hot Rap Songs (Billboard)[24] 11
US Rhythmic (Billboard)[25] 22

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (2016) Position
Australia Urban (ARIA)[26] 23

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[27] Platinum 70,000^
Belgium (BEA)[28] Gold 15,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[29] Gold 30,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[30] Silver 200,000 

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Cook-Wilson, Winston (March 16, 2015). "Kendrick Lamar - "King Kunta"". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 1, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Kendrick Lamar's New Album: Everything We Know". Rolling Stone. March 10, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Hear Kendrick Lamar's Funky New Album Track 'King Kunta'". Rolling Stone. March 14, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  4. ^ "50 Best Songs of 2015". Rolling Stone. December 3, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2015. 
  5. ^ "The 100 Best Tracks of 2015". Pitchfork Media. December 14, 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Pazz & Jop Statistics". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  7. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/hottest100/15/countdown/
  8. ^ http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/director-x-explains-kendrick-lamars-king-kunta-music-video-news.14702.html
  9. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Shares "King Kunta" Video". Pitchfork. April 1, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  10. ^ Masley, Ed (July 13, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar launches DAMN. Tour in Glendale with triumphant one-man show of force". AZ Central. Retrieved October 30, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  12. ^ "Ultratop.be – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  13. ^ "Ultratop.be – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta" (in Dutch). Ultratop Urban. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  14. ^ "Ultratop.be – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  15. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)" Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  16. ^ "Lescharts.com – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  17. ^ "Chart Track: Week 13, 2015". Irish Singles Chart.
  18. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  19. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  20. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  21. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  22. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Hot 100)" Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  23. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)" Billboard. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  24. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Hot Rap Songs)" Billboard. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  25. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Rhythmic)" Billboard. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  26. ^ "ARIA Top 50 Urban Singles 2016". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  27. ^ Ryan, Gavin (March 12, 2016). "ARIA Singles: Lukas Graham Spends 4th Week at No 1". Noise11. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – 2016". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Kendrick Lamar "King Kunta"". IFPI Denmark. September 19, 2017. Retrieved September 26, 2017. 
  30. ^ "British single certifications – Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 18, 2016.  Enter King Kunta in the search field and then press Enter.