As part of the build-up to Kendrick Lamar’s new project, the Underground Flux will present KENDRICK WEEK for the next 7 days (March 31 to April 7). A special focus will be put on K-Dot during that time span. We hope you enjoy.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes rigor mortis as the “temporary rigidity of muscles occurring after death.” It is one of first signs of death, as well as what Kendrick’s competition is going through in this song. Named “Rigamortis” because of the non-rhotic pronunciation of the actual word, this track from Kendrick’s mixtape-cum-album Section.80 describes how Kendrick is annihilating every rapper in the game.
The track starts off by drawing a parallel to “West Coast Wu-Tang” from Kendrick’s third mixtape, C4. In that song, Kendrick sees himself as a mortal man sparring with dragons. By “Rigamortis,” Kendrick has become one of those dragons (“Got me breathing with dragons”).
Lamar, still an up-and-coming artist when this song was released, alludes to the listener preferring to listening to their favorite rapper instead. However, Kendrick has already disposed of him.
Don’t ask for your favorite rapper
(He dead) Yessir
(He dead) I killed him
Kendrick killing “your favorite rapper” is mentioned multiple times throughout the song. He drives the point home because he’s here to take over the game. Similarly to Kendrick’s earlier projects, he’s still trying to find his footing lyrically. Although there are plenty of catchy rhyme schemes (particularly late on) in “Rigamortis,” there are also a few eyeroll-inducing lines:
I’m on the toilet when I rhyme
If you the shit, then I decline
I climax where you begin
And then I end on Cloud 9
There’s nothing wrong with those witticisms, they are a good representation of how K-Dot has evolved lyrically from a more amusing and arrogant style to an introspective one.
Kendrick spends the rest of the song alternating between clever rhymes and signing off musical death warrants. The overall theme remains the same: he’s the best thing going today and no one can touch him from a musical standpoint. Even though Section.80 was released in 2011, it’s hard to disagree with Kendrick’s boastfulness. Or would it be confidence?
Despite the track’s success, it did not come without controversy. In late 2014, Willie Jones III (drummer) and Eric Reed (pianist) filed a $1 million lawsuit against Kendrick Lamar for sampling their song “The Thorn” without permission.
While the similarities between both songs are indisputable, the wrath of their lawsuit was probably misdirected, as it Top Dawg Entertainment’s duty to clear samples and not Kendrick’s. Nevertheless, the lawsuit was seemingly settled out of court.
You can follow Wilko on Twitter @wilko_mart_cach.