The Best Kendrick Lamar Songs

From ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ on good kid, m.A.A.d city to ‘Love’ on DAMN, here are the best Kendrick Lamar songs, so far.

Kendrick Lamar Best Songs
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Kendrick Lamar Best Songs

If there was ever any doubt about Kendrick, the past few years have proven that we're watching one of the all-time greats in real time.

Damn is one of Kendrick's best albums. All that means, though, is it's just another Kendrick album; he's dropped three close-to-classics in a row, and there are no true bricks in his catalog. With each record he gains greater command of his abilities—which is to be expected—but also his creative vision. On Damn, he takes the unwieldy ambitious weight of To Pimp A Butterfly and finds ways to contour it into songs. Instead of making another grand statement piece of an album, he smashed all the ideas contained in it to make great songs that, when taken together, count towards just as thoughtful and urgent a whole. The result means that we have 14 more contenders for a list like this. 

Moreover, it's hard to imagine that Kendrick's prowess has even reached its peak. Like Kanye, and maybe even more than him, Kendrick has reached the rarefied place where his audience will trust that he knows exactly where he's going next. He's got the plaques, critical acclaim, and L.A. car speakers to prove it, and these songs are the ones that make the best argument that he is, indisputably, one of rap's greats. 

34. "Swimming Pools (Drank)" (2012)

Kendrick Lamar Best Songs

33. "Untitled 06" (2016)

Kendrick Lamar Best Songs

32. "The Heart Pt. 2" (2010)

Overly Dedicated

31. "The Jig Is Up (Dump'n)" (2012)

The Jig Is Up

30. "Westside, Right on Time" f/ Young Jeezy (2012)

Westside, Right On Time

29. "Untitled 07" (2016)

Kendrick Lamar Best Songs

28. "Blow My High (Members Only)" (2011)

Blow My High

27. "Wesley’s Theory" f/ George Clinton and Thundercat (2015)

Wesley’s Theory

26. "Poetic Justice" f/ Drake (2012)

Poetic Justice

25. "You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)" (2015)

You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)

24. "Love" f/ Zacari (2017)


23. "The Art of Peer Pressure" (2012)

The Art of Peer Pressure

22. "Untitled" (2015)

untitled unmastered kendrick cover

21. "Hol' Up" (2011)

Section 80

20. "Blue Faces" (2016)

Kendrick Lamar Untitled Unmastered

19. "Humble" (2017)


18. "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" (2012)

Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe

17. "King Kunta" (2015)

King Kunta

16. "Rigamortus" (2011)


15. "Hood Politics" (2015)

Hood Politics

14. "Fear" (2017)


13. "HiiiPoWeR" (2011)


12. "u" (2015)


11. "Alright" (2015)


10. "Duckworth" (2017)


9. "A.D.H.D." (2011)


8. "Backseat Freestyle" (2012)

Backseat Freestyle

7. "The Blacker the Berry" (2015)

The Blacker the Berry

Producer: Boi-1da, KOZ, Terrace Martin, Katalyst

Album: To Pimp a Butterfly

The pent-up frustration that builds throughout To Pimp a Butterfly is finally unleashed on “The Blacker the Berry,” an aggressive track that strays from the jazz and funk vibes heard earlier in the album. The title of the record is a nod to Wallace Thurman’s 1929 book, The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life, and features Kendrick seething with anger over the treatment of black people. “Been feeling this way since I was 16, came to my senses/You never liked us anyway, fuck your friendship, I meant it,” kicks up the intensity, as well as this powerful simile: “I'm African-American, I'm African, I'm black as the heart of a fuckin' Aryan.” Assassin’s accompanying raw delivery adds to the fiery tone, backed by a brooding beat created by a team of producers led by Grammy-winning Boi-1da.

What makes “Blacker the Berry” even more potent is that Kendrick dropped it the day after he won two Grammys for “i,” which is basically the antithesis of the message being conveyed here. That, and the fact that the listener receives a mindfuck in the very last line of the song. Here’s a real-time reaction: 

Edwin Ortiz


6. "Money Trees" f/ Jay Rock (2012)

Money Trees

5. "DNA" (2017)


4. "Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst" (2012)

Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst

3. "Cartoon & Cereal" f/ Gunplay (2012)

Cartoon & Cereal

2. "m.A.A.d city" f/ MC Eiht (2012)

m.A.A.d city

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