With less than two weeks to go before Rolling Stone cover star Kendrick Lamar drops his much-anticipated To Pimp a Butterfly, a new track from his upcoming LP has surfaced. The funky blaxploitation-fueled "King Kunta" finds Lamar casting himself as a modern day version of the Roots protagonist. "It's just [Lamar] expressing how he's feeling at the moment," Lamar's longtime collaborator and "King Kunta" producer Mark "Sounwave" Spears told Rolling Stone of the track, "And right now, he's mad."
"Bitch where you when I was walkin'? / Now I run the game got the whole world talkin' / King Kunta," Lamar says on the track's hook. "Everybody wanna cut the legs off him, Kunta / Black man taking no losses." The track also boasts call-and-response – "When you got the yams (What's the yams?)" – straight out of Shaft and Parliament records as the rapper weaves a stunning scene that seamlessly references Richard Pryor, Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" in its lyrics.
To provide further proof of the Funkadelic influence that saturates throughout To Pimp a Butterfly –Lamar admitted to listening to a lot of Miles Davis and Parliament while making his new album –"King Kunta" wraps up with a mournful Eddie Hazel-esque guitar solo and an interpolation of the George Clinton funk outfit's "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)" as Lamar and his chorus chant "We want the funk" over the track's closing bars.
In addition to what we already know about To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar has also unveiled the LP's 16-song tracklist, which includes "The Blacker the Berry," "u" and an extended version of the 2014 Grammy-winning single "i."
To Pimp a Butterfly
1. "Wesley's Theory"
2. "For Free? (Interlude)"
3. "King Kunta"
5. "These Walls"
8. "For Sale? (Interlude)"
10. "Hood Politics"
11. "How Much A Dollar Cost"
13. "The Blacker the Berry"
14. "You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)"
16. "Mortal Man"