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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Why I can't listen to 'Backseat Freestyle'

Music is, by its very nature, subjective. Personally, I am not the biggest hip-hop fan; however, I love Kendrick Lamar.

My experience with Lamar began during welcome week last year. “The Spiteful Chant” rang loudly out of my dorm room speakers multiple times per day.

But there is one Kendrick song that is arguably the worst song ever written, “Backseat Freestyle.”

When I reviewed Good Kid, M.A.A.D City last October for The Daily Cardinal, I wrote, “[‘Backseat Freestyle’] refuses to go anywhere, with a repeating hook and a chorus that melds right into the verses. This is Lamar at his angriest, and unfortunately, it does not work.”

Yet despite the rest of the album being a veritable masterpiece, this song sticks out like a sore thumb as the worst thing ol’ K.Dot has ever released.

Now apparently I am in the minority here as the song reached number 22 on the Billboard US Rap Songs chart and was one of four songs to be released as a single off the album.

Lamar has often been known for his clever wordplay and incredible delivery with strong production value to boot.

“Backseat Freestyle” has none of that.

Let’s start with the beat. For this song, we get something sounding like the theme from “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” “Tokyo Drift (Fast & Furious)” by the Teriyaki Boyz, to go along with a boring bass line and what sounds like an 8-year-old sporadically triggering random samples.

But the beat is fine compared to the words. Let’s start with the most abrasive and dumb lyric of the song—the second half of the hook.

“I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower/So I can fuck the world for 72 hours.”

Really, Kendrick? How one can go from the creative wordplay of “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” to this is astounding.

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I fully understand the point of this song is not to be the pinnacle of human achievement. It’s meant to show the growing pains of Lamar as a young rapper who is just going off the cuff about his life as a 16-year-old.

When a song is popular, they make a music video. Naturally, this song gets the music video treatment, and it’s as confounding as the song itself.

For the first 90 seconds or so, Lamar sits around his house and eventually goes to the store. It quickly cuts to his father, sitting in a chair, without a shirt, smoking for about a minute. There is no explanation of this. This is not in the album version of the song.

But taking that at face value, we then go into the next verse where we see Lamar leaning on his car while Sherane, a character that appears throughout the course of the album, is “twerking.” This lasts for about 30 seconds while Lamar just stands there.

At some point we end up in Paris, where Lamar raps in front of the aforementioned Eiffel Tower, before the video mercifully ends.

Now some of you may be fans of this song, others maybe not so much. But one thing is certain, whether you like it or not, the song is horrible.

Lamar has put out dozens of good songs and guest verses over his meteoric rise; however, this just isn’t one of them. Between his amateur-hour raps about his dick size being as big as a Parisian monument and the underwhelming beat, coupled with this perplexing music video, I can firmly say that “Backseat Freestyle” is my least favorite song that people seem to like.

Is “Backseat Freestyle” actually the best song in your opinion? Complain Brain’s ear off at

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