Despite having lost out on the Grammy for Best Rap Album, Kendrick Lamar is having quite a year. His blistering 2012 major label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, continues to earn him much deserved kudos and legions of fans, and he’s shown up time and time again to drop a guest verse for everyone from Robin Thicke to Emeli Sandé to Mayer Hawthorne to Imagine Dragons.
Fresh off a spotlight set last week at SXSW, Lamar continues his flirtation with pop with his appearance on a track from the highly anticipated YA dystopian film Divergent’s soundtrack. This time, he’s teamed up with Australian psychedelic rockers Tame Impala. The band has reworked one of the standout tracks from 2012’s Lonerism, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” into a protest song in keeping with the rebellious themes of the film. “Backwards” retains the dreamy chorus from the original tune and layers in some frenetic percussion that allows for Kendrick to spit incendiary verses lambasting the status quo and his (and by extension, the film’s protagonist’s) non-adherence to it.
Lamar abandons his usual lackadaisical delivery method to adopt a guttural vocal technique that sells the urgency of the lyrics. He’s basically growling his way through these verses, selling lines like “The night is young and I can see your demise / I’m waitin’ for it” and doing his part to engender that revolution just around the corner.