Produced By: Skhye Hutch, Sounwave / Like of Pac Div
Kendrick Lamar: “That’s the story of it all right there, breaking down. In that song I’m breaking down the actual incident that changed my life: One of my partners had got smoked and I was right there to witness it.
Skhye Hutch: “I had gotten in with TDE through Tae Beats [of Digi+Phonics] and Ab-Soul, who opened his ear to me and let me produce on Control System. Kendrick hit me up searching for particular sounds and whatnot. I was already in my zone at the time, creating tons of beats so I was just sending him stuff. I was actually going to send this beat to Ab-Soul but I held off. I sent it to Tae and let him listen to it first. He went crazy and I was just like, ‘I’m going to send it to Kendrick.’ A couple weeks later, Kendrick hit me up like, ‘Yo, I really need that record.’
“I didn’t know it was going to be his most personal record. I had one of those Kanye moments where he gave the ‘This Can’t Be Life’ beat to Jay-Z. And he was like, ‘I didn’t know it was going to be that [personal]!’ I wasn’t expecting something personal. I just heard his voice on there.
In that song I’m breaking down the actual incident that changed my life: One of my partners had got smoked and I was there right there to witness it. —Kendrick Lamar
“This whole album collectively is an amazing piece. He really puts his time into every single song, with his little ad-libs—anything. He’s literally hands-on with that. He’s to the T, bruh. Kendrick is such a complex individual. You think you know one thing, but nah, it’s something else.
“He changes his mind every second. I was just talking to Beast about this. I was watching the A Tribe Called Quest documentary [Beats, Rhymes, and Life], and you know how they were talking about how Q-Tip one moment would love the record, they’d be thinking it was a go, but then he’d change his mind? I was like, ‘That’s what Kendrick be reminding me of.’ I swear to God. He’ll sit here, and be like, ‘I love this record.’ Then next week, he’ll be like, ‘You know, I was actually thinking I want this old record that you did.’ Something I been sent him! His mind is constantly on the change. That’s how a lot of greats do it though—shoot, even Dre does that.”
Punch: “Kendrick came to me and said, ‘What do you think about putting these two songs together?’ Right off, I was just like, ‘Yeah, that’s genius, why not?’ What ties them together is genius. Those two songs are probably the heaviest and deepest songs.”
Kendrick Lamar: “The same day [my homeboy got shot], I ran into an older lady. I don’t want to say she was religious, but she was a spiritual lady who broke down what life is really about to us.
I was watching the A Tribe Called Quest documentary [Beats, Rhymes, and Life] , and you know how they were talking about how Q-Tip one moment would love the record, they’d be thinking it was a go, but then he’d change his mind? I was like, ‘That’s what Kendrick be reminding me of.’ —Skhye Hutch
“‘I’m Dying of Thirst’ represents being in a situation where all this happens throughout the day, but at the end of the day we run into this particular lady and she breaks down the story of God, positivity, life, being free, and being real with yourself. She was letting us know what’s really real. Because you have to leave this earth and speak to somebody of a higher power.
“That song represents being baptized, the actual water, getting dipped in holy water. It represents when my whole spirit changed, when my life starts—my life that you know right now, that’s when it starts. The whole album is really it’s own. I can go back and listen to these stories and know that they come from reality.”
Like (of Pac Div): “Me and Pac Div was on tour last year with Mac Miller and on Thanksgiving we had an off day in South Carolina. It was like two in the morning and I started making beats. And this particular one I came across, I was just really in the groove man. Something was telling me to send it to Kendrick.
“I wasn’t going to send it to his management, I had his email so I contacted him directly. It was like three in the morning by the time I finished the beat. I sent it to him and he hit me right back, like, ‘Yo man, this shit is crazy. I got the lights off, candles on writing this, man. This is a gem.’ I didn’t think nothing of it, I just knew it was a dope beat. If he wasn’t getting on it, I was definitely going to use it for myself.
“Some months later I ran into him at SXSW and he was like, ‘Yo I got classics to your joints.’ And I was like, ‘Damn, that’s what’s up.’ And he went further and whipped out his iPhone and just started playing me my beats with his vocals over it—it was like three or four songs. I was like ‘Shit man, that’s what’s up.’
It was like three in the morning by time I finished the beat. I sent it to him and he hit me right back, like, ‘Yo man, this is crazy. I got the lights off, candles on writing this, man. This is a gem.’
—Like (of Pac Div)
“He also reached out and dropped a verse for our album coming out in November. He hit me up, like, ‘Not only are you a dope rhymer, but you dope on the beats.’ It meant a lot. We used to do Key Club, we used to do Roxy, we used to do all the major hip-hop show spots in L.A. I remember the whole Black Hippy used to open up for us. We always opened our doors and welcomed them, we’ve shared dressing rooms. We know a lot of mutual friends. It’s a family affair.
“The West—we’ve been working for a long time, man, and not to be selfish, but yeah, we kind of want our recognition back. You know, it ain’t been the same since 2Pac. We just making sure cats knows what’s up and he’s definitely holding it down. This album could very well be nominated for a Grammy.”