“You are the last Colbert Report musical guest. Honored to have you on, but keep in mind: Paul McCartney, R.E.M., Jack White and Nas were your opening acts,” Stephen Colbert joked to Kendrick Lamar, who was recruited to provide The Colbert Report‘s final performance before the show ends Thursday. To live up to the hype and as a going-away present, Lamar decided to premiere an explosive new track.
While Lamar’s “i” was a meditation on self-love that chugged along on an Isley Brothers interpolation, this as-yet-untitled track delves into more experimental, jazzier territory – there is even a saxophone solo courtesy of Terrace Martin – as the Compton rapper explores how different races give him contrasting advice.
In Lamar’s story, an Asian man tells him to worry about his health and not his career, an Indian man recommends he invest in real estate, the black man reveals “Nookie is power” and the white man: “A peace of mind / That’s what the white man wanted when I rhymed / Telling me that he selling me for $10.99 / If I go platinum from rapping, I’ll do the company fine.”
The track explodes when Lamar goes into rapid-fire mode, rapping, “Put a price on my talent / I hit the bank and withdraw,” while the backup singers soar behind him. The song ends on a closing coda where Lamar borrows and aggressively delivers the age-old “We don’t die, we multiply” line from Bebe’s Kids. The Astronote reportedly produced the new track, which features assistance by Flying Lotus protégé Thundercat and Bilal.
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Along with the performance, Lamar also sat down with Colbert for a brief interview, with the future Late Show host wondering whether it’s difficult to get life insurance when your job title is “Leader of West Coast Rap.” Lamar also discussed why he’d rather be viewed as a writer than a rapper. “I pride myself on that. It’s more storytelling than putting rhyming words together,” Lamar says. Colbert also asks, “Are you straight outta Compton? There are no detours? There is nothing between Compton and here? You didn’t have a layover in Des Moines?”