The Playlist Every Kendrick Lamar Fan Needs This Summer

  • Kendrick Lamar – "Hol’ Up"

    One of the openers to his career-making Section.80 album and the perfect start for your summer playlist, Hol’ Up is Kendrick at his triumphant best over a joyous horn-laced beat from Sounwave. The track will make anyone feel like they too are stunting from 30,000 feet.

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  • Twin Sister – "Meet the Frownies"

    South Central L.A. and Long Island are not areas usually associated with each other. That was until Lamar bridged the gap over a sample of Twin Sister’s Meet the Frownies on his Dr. Dre collabo “The Recipe.” The original packs a serious punch and balances light melodic elements with a darker edge, making for a sleeper summer anthem.

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  • Blu ft. Bombay and Arima Ederra – "Summer Time"

    A hip-hop staple, Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” has formed the basis for some timeless hits, most notably for DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Putting a decidedly West Coast slant on the familiar loop, while maintaining the seasonal vibe, Blu and co. paint a picture of summer that is not-so innocent. I took her to the drive-in movie with a toolie, in case she tried to do me, laments Blu. The trio shows that Cali is more than sunshine, just as Kendrick does on much of his work. Yet it still sounds so smooth.

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  • SZA ft. Isaiah Rashad – "Warm Winds"

    Not merely a tastemaker on his own, the TDE head honcho has been working to change the game with a crew of talented artists. His first non-rap signee, SZA links up with labelmate Isaiah Rashad on this rather psychedelic excursion that is sure to redefine wavy this summer.

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  • Tame Impala – "Music to Walk Home By"

    If your only exposure to Tame Impala is through “Backwards, their duet with Kendrick Lamar, then there is much more to discover. On “Music to Walk Home By,” from their acclaimed album Lonerism, the Aussie band evokes the progressive rock of the ‘70s, while adding a modern twist. Rap aficionados will particularly appreciate the synth work.

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  • NWA – "Alwayz Into Somethin’"

    When K-Dot was still a young pup, his future label boss Dr. Dre was blending street culture with artistry as the architect of the NWA sound. This sometimes overlooked slice of early G-funk set the stage for Dre’s later synth-laden solo work and like many songs of the time and place is perfect for cruising with the top down.

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  • YG ft. Tee Flii – "Do it to Ya"

    YG’s debut label release My Krazy Life serves as a veritable homage to the Cali sound of pioneers such as Too $hort and E-40. No cut on the album sums up the sound and better complements the summer season better than this bubbly slice of modern G-funk. YG is leading the charge for the “New West” alongside Kendrick and others, even collaborating on “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin).” Longtime fans will recognize the reworking of Tha Dogg Pound’s “Let’s Play House” on the beat.

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  • Shade Sheist ft. Nate Dogg and Kurupt – "Where I Wanna Be"

    More than artists from any other coast, those in the west have always created an enviable feel with their music. They’re always in the ideal spot, soaking up the weather and everything else coastal life has to offer. “Where I Wanna Be finds the duo of Shade Sheist and mentor Nate Dogg, the Kendrick and Dre combo of the time, teaming with legendary lyricist Kurupt. While their partnership didn’t result in the same success as Kendrick’s, this anthem will continue to serve as a summer soundtrack for years to come.

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  • J. Cole ft. Kendrick Lamar - "Forbidden Fruit"

    It takes serious grapefruits and artistic confidence to use the same sample as one of hip-hop’s most beloved songs. Reworking Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew,” the new school dream team of Cole and Kendrick deliver their own brand of electric relaxation. As soothing as the beat sounds, the track is ultimately about Cole facing pressure and his journey to prominence.

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  • Organized Konfusion - "Walk into the Sun"

    K-Dot created his signature anthem with “Swimming Pool (Drank),” a cautionary tale of addiction wrapped in easily digestible packaging. Here on “Walk into the Sun,” Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po use an ultra-catchy beat to juxtapose breezy summer imagery (“in the park, kites fly high”) with harsh hood realities like, “See the black boy over there runnin’ scared, his old man runs numbers summers.” This is a nourishing track in many ways.

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  • Boom Clap Bachelors – "Combiner"

    Despite their sporadic releases and relative unknown status among many listeners, Boom Clap Bachelors have now become infamous due to being sampled on “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.” The Danish five-piece are responsible for some damn fine electronically-inclined jazz, particularly “Combiner,” which has the ideal combination of breathy vocals and evocative keyboard to complement your fun in the sun.

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  • Miguel ft. Kendrick Lamar – "How Many Drinks?"

    It wouldn’t be summer without some dranks and some grown-up fun. In this case crooner Miguel hits the club looking to nab the attention of a special someone, using adult beverages as a facilitator. To further aid the cause, Kendrick scoops in to help him tell his tales of empty hearts and empty bottles. Top that off with a laid back groove and you’ve got yourself quite the concoction.

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  • Kendrick Lamar ft. Jay Rock - "Money Trees"

    Once again displaying his gift for making “message songs” that can still be considered ear candy, Lamar both celebrates and questions the pursuit of wealth on “Money Trees” over a bouncy production. He is joined by TDE homie Jay Rock, who brings his hard-edged approach.

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  • Section.80
  • Twin Sister
  • BLU & Bombay
  • SZA
  • NWA
  • Shade Sheist
  • J. Cole
  • Organized Konfusion

Joy, frustration, positivity, hate. Music can both create and help accentuate moods for the listener. As performers that use the spoken word, rappers have an intimate relationship with their fans that goes beyond just hearing by putting listeners in their shoes.

Never one to shy away from his emotions, Kendrick Lamar creates mood music that reflects where he’s coming from and where he’s at in the moment. From contemplative (“Kush and Corinthians”) to conflicted (“Ignorance is Bliss”) to combative (his infamous “Control” verse), he never seems to stay in the same zone for too long. It is his ability to encompass so many emotions in his work that has won over so many.

To celebrate K-Dot’s 27th birthday and the start of summer, we have selected some of his most seasonal cuts, along with selections from some of his collaborators and kindred spirits, that are sure to get any Kendrick fan in the mood.

Follow me on Twitter at @hazardaus