Element (song)

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"Element"
Song by Kendrick Lamar
from the album Damn
Recorded 2017
Studio Jungle City Studios
Genre Hip hop
Length 3:28
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Sounwave
  • Blake
  • Riera
Music video
"Element" on YouTube

"Element" (stylized as "ELEMENT.") is a song by American rapper Kendrick Lamar, from his fourth studio album Damn, released on April 14, 2017. The fourth track on the album (eleventh on the Collector's Edition of Damn[2]), the song was written by Lamar, Mark Spears, a.k.a. Sounwave, James Blake, and Ricci Riera and produced by Sounwave, Blake, and Riera, with additional production by Tae Beast and Bēkon.[3] Although not released as a single, the song charted in multiple countries in 2017.

Background[edit]

The song was first introduced by basketball player LeBron James on his Instagram story when he filmed himself dancing to the song prior to Damn's release.[4][5]

Lyrics[edit]

The track opens with a skit from DJ Kid Capri, who refers to Lamar as "Kung Fu Kenny" and repeats the phrase "I don't give a fuck" in a cadence.[6]

Some sources have interpreted the song as a diss track on American rappers Big Sean[7] and Drake.[6] However, Andres Tardio of Rap-Up has stated the song's hook as a possible diss on Drake, Big Sean, or American recording artist Jay Electronica.[8][7][6]

The second verse of the song has been described to have a resemblance to Lamar's "The Heart Part 4", a song also theorized to have contained lyrics that diss Drake and Big Sean.[6] The second verse as follows:

None of y’all fuckin’ with the flow, yeah, the flow, yeah
Years in the making, don’t ya’ll mistake it
I got ’em by a landslide, we talkin’ ’bout races
You know this’ll never be a tie, just look at they laces[5][6]

Production[edit]

The song features production from musician and producer James Blake, who before "Element" appeared as a featured vocalist on American singer Beyoncé's song "Forward" from her sixth studio album Lemonade and as a producer on singer Frank Ocean's second studio album Blonde.[9] Ricci Riera, who previously worked as a producer on the Lamar-Schoolboy Q collaboration "Collard Greens", also worked as producer for the song.[9]

Music video[edit]

The song's accompanying music video premiered on June 27, 2017 on Lamar's Vevo channel on YouTube.[10] The video was directed by Jonas Lindstroem and The Little Homies[11][12] (pseudonyms for Lamar himself and Dave Free).[13][14][15]

Described as violent[16] and powerful,[17] the music video contains powerful imagery, some of which contains direct references to photographs of civil rights photographer, musician, writer, and director Gordon Parks.[18][19] The video also mimics the imagery from the music video for "Humble", the first single from Damn.[20]

The music video has received positive reviews.[21] Lawrence Burney of noisey called the video "the masterpiece you anticipated."[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Joe Price of Pigeons and Planes named "Element" as one of the best songs of the week, the week of April 14, 2017, saying the song has "memorable verses and a sticky hook over some sparse but gorgeous production."[22] Continuing, Price says "Element" is "a prime example of what makes Damn an immediately appealing body of work that is just as rewarding as his more challenging output."[22] Meave McDermott of USA Today, in a positive review, said the song "still sounds sharp and unforgiving even when he's coining catchphrases."[4]

Live performances[edit]

Lamar performed "Element" for the first time live at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 23, 2017.[23][24][25][26] His performance at Coachella was highly acclaimed, with the L.A. Times describing his performance as "simple, yet powerful."[24]

Lamar has performed "Element" on the Damn tour.[27]

Sample[edit]

The song contains a sample of "Ha" by rapper Juvenile, from his third studio album 400 Degreez.[28][29]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the official Damn digital booklet.[1]

  • Kendrick Lamar – songwriter
  • Mark Spears – songwriter, producer
  • James Blake – songwriter, producer
  • Ricci Riera – songwriter, producer
  • Tae Beast – additional production
  • Bēkon – additional production
  • Kid Capri – additional vocals
  • Matt Schaeffer – mixing
  • James Hunt – mixing
  • Derek Ali – mixing
  • Tyler Page – mix assistant
  • Cyrus Taghipour – mix assistant
  • Zeke Mishanec – additional recording
  • Brendan Silas Perry – additional recording

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[45] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Digital Booklet - DAMN. copy.pdf". DocDroid. Retrieved April 23, 2017. 
  2. ^ India, Lindsey (December 8, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar Surprises Fans With 'Damn.' Collector's Edition". XXL. Retrieved December 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Here's the full credit list for Kendrick Lamar's DAMN". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. April 14, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b McDermott, Maeve (April 14, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.': A track-by-track instant review". USA Today. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Kendrick Lamar – ELEMENT., retrieved April 24, 2017 
  6. ^ a b c d e Castro, Danilo (April 14, 2017). "Did Kendrick Lamar Take Shots At Big Sean & Drake On His New Album 'DAMN'?". Heavy.com. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Gallagher, Caitlin. "Did Kendrick Lamar Diss Big Sean On "Element"? Fans Have Major Suspicions". Bustle. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  8. ^ Tardio, Andres (April 20, 2017). "14 Times Kendrick Lamar Made Us Say 'DAMN.' on His Album". Rap-Up. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Kendrick Lamar's 'Damn.': A Track-by-Track Guide". Rolling Stone. April 14, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Drops 'Element' Video". XXL. Retrieved June 27, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Brawls in the Street in Powerful New Video for "Element"". Complex. Retrieved June 29, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Watch Kendrick Lamar Weigh Peace, Violence in Striking 'Element' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 29, 2017. 
  13. ^ Craighead, Olivia (June 27, 2017). "Drake Announces 2017 OVO Fest Lineup". The FADER. Retrieved June 29, 2017. 
  14. ^ Yoo, Noah (June 27, 2017). "Watch Kendrick Lamar Brawl in Intense New "ELEMENT." Video | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved June 29, 2017. 
  15. ^ Gotrich, Lars (June 27, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar Deals Heavy Blows In Video For 'ELEMENT.'". NPR.org. Retrieved June 29, 2017. 
  16. ^ Moore, Sam (June 27, 2017). "Watch Kendrick Lamar's violent new video for 'ELEMENT.' - NME". NME. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  17. ^ Cowen, Trace William (June 27, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar Brawls in the Street in Powerful New Video for "Element"". Complex. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  18. ^ Dandridge-Lemco, Ben (June 27, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar's "ELEMENT." Video Referenced Iconic Gordon Parks Photos". The FADER. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  19. ^ Rife, Katie (June 28, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar pays tribute to a pioneer in sublime "Element" video". Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  20. ^ Blistein, Jon (June 27, 2017). "Watch Kendrick Lamar Weigh Peace, Violence in Striking 'Element' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  21. ^ a b Burney, Lawrence (June 27, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar's "Element" Video Is the Masterpiece You Anticipated". Noisey. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  22. ^ a b Price, Joe. "Best Songs of the Week - Kendrick Lamar - "Element"". PigeonsandPlanes. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Performs 'Element,' 'i' and More at 2017 Coachella - XXL". XXL Mag. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  24. ^ a b "Kendrick Lamar sends off Coachella weekend 2 on a high note". USA TODAY. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Setlist at Coachella Festival 2017". setlist.fm. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Commands Coachella Stage on Day 3 of Final Weekend, Hans Zimmer Rocks, Justice Light it Up". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  27. ^ Masley, Ed (July 13, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar launches DAMN. Tour in Glendale with triumphant one-man show of force". AZ Central. Retrieved October 30, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Kendrick Lamar's 'ELEMENT.' - Discover the Sample Source". WhoSampled. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  29. ^ "Every Sample On Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.'". YouTube. Genius. April 17, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  30. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Kendrick Lamar – Element." (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  31. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  32. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda – Digital Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 201716 into search. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  33. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Singles Téléchargés – SNEP (Week 16, 2017)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved April 22, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Kendrick Lamar – Element.". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  35. ^ "IRMA – Irish Charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved April 21, 2017. 
  36. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Kendrick Lamar – Element." (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  37. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. May 1, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  38. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Kendrick Lamar – Element.". AFP Top 100 Singles. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  39. ^ "SNS IFPI" (in Slovak). Hitparáda – Singles Digital Top 100 Oficiálna. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 201716 into search. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  40. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kendrick Lamar – Element.". Singles Top 100. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  41. ^ "Kendrick Lamar: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  42. ^ Mendizabal, Amaya (April 24, 2017). "Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.': All 14 Tracks Hit Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  43. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  44. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: Year-End 2017". Billboard. Billboard.com. Retrieved 2017-12-11. 
  45. ^ "American single certifications – Kendrick Lamar – Element". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 7, 2018.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]