"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." Additionally, Pitchfork ranked the song at number four on its "The 100 Best Tracks of 2015" list.Village Voice named "King Kunta" the second-best single released in 2015 on their annual year-end critics' poll, Pazz & Jop. It came in 2nd on the annual Triple J Hottest 100 for 2015.
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. The video premiered on Vevo and YouTube on April 1, 2015.