The Breakdown: Kendrick Lamar – Collect Calls


Perhaps one of my favorite songs off Good Kid Maad City, Collect Calls follows an individual dealing with some troubles. The first verse is basically the written words from a letter written home to an inmate’s mother detailing with the struggles one goes through while behind bars.
The verse is descriptive in a way that it enables the listener to feel the emotions of the individual and how anxious that person is. The production is futuristic and full of synths but the song hums another melody, one which possesses a bit of melancholy. You can hear the individual’s sense of urgency but he’s not yet in a panic. i.e.
“commissary running low I need help, not too much, I’ll hustle up the rest myself”. Kendrick Lamar does an excellent job of relaying the individuals’ feelings anger by altering his voice. You can hear it at moments like when he speaks of the individual’s girl not coming to visit him while he’s locked down and she is messing around with another dude.

The second verse starts with the same line as the first verse, “momma take this motherf#ckin block off”. This verse seems like a relapse to before the prison sentence. The verse sounds like more of a build up of all of the events that lead to the incarceration of the individual. Again you can hear the emotion pouring out throughout the verse. “remember when you put me in that relay run, I was racing, chasing dreams to be the best, you had called me that the very day I won”. I believe that line has a double meaning. The first of which is the more obvious meaning that his mother had put him in a situation when he was young to literally run in a race. I think the second meaning carries over from that moment in the individual’s life. The individual carried that pride and thought he could run from the law and be the best, and after his capture he tries to make up an excuse and push the blame onto his mother. He wants her sympathy and sways away from accountability. Very deep ish.

The last verse sounds like the confrontation between the mother and the individual. It’s more of an explanation of her actions and her desire to see him become the man she thought she raised him to be. She lends her shoulder to him for just one moment, “look at your reflection, tell me who you see, who is your protection G-O-D”, then continues to deliver her message. She also confronts his misplacement of blame by stating “only you will say that I’m selfish”. The twist at the end reveals that she is the witness that he mentioned in the second verse. But what threw me for a loop was how the story ended, peep.
“so before I take the stand, and put this Bible in my hand, son let me say this…
men lie, women lie……look at all the bullshit I’ve been through, if I take you home will you tell the truth”

Wow! An excellent song, the chorus was perfect and kudos to THC for that production. Get yourself a listen.

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