Unto you: Shared Experiences Through Art

“Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” lyrics

In “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” Kendrick Lamar explores themes of identity, loss, and redemption through his own experiences and observations. The song’s title refers to Lamar’s desire to be remembered and have his story told through music, even after his death.

Throughout the song, Lamar grapples with the complexities of his identity and how it has been shaped by his positive and negative experiences. He reflects on his poverty, violence, and addiction; and how they have impacted his sense of self.

At the same time, Lamar also speaks to the broader disenfranchisement and injustice he sees in the world around him. He speaks about the struggles of marginalized communities and the ways in which they are often overlooked or mistreated by society.

The lyrics are deeply emotional and introspective, and Lamar’s delivery is raw and powerful. Through his music, he confronts his own struggles and encourages others to do the same, offering hope and redemption.

I woke up this morning and figured I’d call you
In case I’m not here tomorrow
I’m hopin’ that I can borrow
A peace of mind, I’m behind on what’s really important
My mind is really distorted
I find nothing but trouble in my life
I’m fortunate you believe in a dream

Kendricks’s reference to death and dreams shows the hopelessness and misanthropic inner monologue he developed in his childhood. Hope is all he has, as he hopes for a better life. The line “I’m fortunate you believe in a dream” may reference Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, which described his hopes for a future free of racial segregation. Mym find

My plan’s rather vindictive
Everybody’s a victim in my eyes
When I ride it’s a murderous rhythm
And outside became pitch black
A demon glued to my back, whispering “Get ’em!”

As he said before, his “mind is really distorted,” so now that Dave has been shot, his brother wants revenge.

Dave is a friend of Lamar’s who was killed in a drive-by shooting. Dave’s death is a central theme in the song, as Lamar reflects on the loss of his friend and the impact it had on him and those around him.

Lamar uses Dave’s story to explore more prominent themes of identity, mortality, and social injustice. He reflects on how Dave’s death has affected him personally and how it reflects the larger issues of violence and inequality in society. Dave’s story becomes a way for Lamar to explore these broader themes and challenge listeners to think about the impact of these issues on their own lives.

This Piru shit been in me forever
So forever I’ma push it, wherever, whenever
And I love you ’cause you love my brother like you did
Just promise me you’ll tell this story when you make it big
And if I die before your album drop, I hope— [Gunshots]

The term “Piru shit” refers to the Pirus, a street gang based in Compton, California. The Pirus are known for their involvement in drug trafficking and other illegal activities, and the term “Piru shit” is often used to refer to the gang’s activities and culture.

Lamar references the Pirus and “Piru shit” in the song as part of a larger exploration of identity, mortality, and social injustice. He reflects on how the culture of gangs and violence, such as the Pirus, has affected him and those around him and how it reflects larger issues of inequality and injustice in society.

Kendrick also expresses his love for someone else, likely a friend or family member, who has a close relationship with the speaker’s brother. They ask this person to tell their story and share their experiences if they ever become successful or “make it big.”

The reference to the gunshots and the speaker’s hope that they don’t die before Kendrick’s album is released is likely a reference to the violence and danger associated with gang culture and life on the streets. It suggests that the speaker is aware of the risks they face and hopes to see the other person succeed before meeting an untimely demise.

Reading Poetry is Self Care: An Analysis of “Self Care” by Mac Miller

August 3rd, 2018 – About a month before Mac Miller died of an accidental drug overdose, he released his fifth album entitled Swimming. This album is full of poetic songs, one of which is the song “Self Care.” In this song, Mac Miller uses multidimensional language to convey his conflicting emotions and fight to overcome his personal struggles. Mac Miller often sings about obstacles in his life. In this particular song, he focuses on finding his path to happiness, and like the title states, caring for himself. He starts with the chorus:

“I switched the time zone, but what do I know?

Spendin’ nights hitchhikin’, where will I go?

I could fly home, with my eyes closed

But it’d get kinda hard to see, that’s no surprise though

Self Care is simultaneously hopeful and sorrowful. He ends the first two lines with fairly open-ended questions, asking about the direction his future may take. The “time zone” and “nights” refer to his current state of fame in the music industry. This can be interpreted both literally and metaphorically. He is now able to travel and has the money to do whatever he wants. Furthermore, he talks about how he spends his time and how he changes his mentality. In the last two lines of this quote he is talking about returning to his true self. He knows himself well, as exemplified by the image that he doesn’t need to see in order to “fly home.” However, Mac Miller also acknowledges that it is becoming harder to do so as he sinks deeper into addiction and strays further from his roots in Pittsburgh. He keeps with this theme as he continues:

“When it’s feelin’ like you hot enough to melt, yeah (melt, yeah)

Can’t trust no one, can’t even trust yourself, yeah (self, yeah)

And I love you, I don’t love nobody else, yeah (else, yeah)”

The first line presents the image of the immense amount of pressure Mac Miller felt from fans, his music production and record label company, and himself. During these times of stress, he shares that he feels like he can’t rely on himself or others. Additionally, he shows that despite this, he loves one woman. He speaks directly to her, strengthening the impact of how central she is to Mac Miller’s songs. Another verse that is repeated is:

“Tell them they can take that bullshit elsewhere (yeah)

Self-care, I’m treatin’ me right, yeah

Hell yeah, we gonna be alright (we gon’ be alright)”

In this section, Mac Miller is reassuring himself that he will come out of the darkest times. He is prioritizing himself, instead of listening to the criticism that others have for him. He doesn’t define self-care traditionally, instead conveying the message that he is on a journey to become a better person. He wants to improve himself, and do things that are good for him instead of the self-destructive path he used to be, or still is, on.

Finally, the tone and speed of the song changes as Mac Miller ends the song with the word “oblivion.” Oblivion is defined as the state of being unaware or unconscious of one’s surroundings. He raps that it is both a “beautiful feeling,” and “didn’t know what I was missin’,” implying that while he may be happier when he is not present, he actually regrets not fully being there. Addiction played such a big role in his life and consequently his music, emphasized through the repetition of the word “oblivion.” It illustrates that although he wants to change, it is difficult due to the nature of addiction. Overall, Mac Miller beautifully portrays his struggles with fame, addiction, and putting himself first in the song “Self Care.” He is deliberate in the way he uses language and sound to make the listener feel his emotions while writing. This song truly deserves to be called poetry.