N.E.R.D Debut New Song “Don’t Don’t Do It!” Featuring Kendrick Lamar
Fans are just days away from getting their hands on a new N.E.R.D album, and the hype is only becoming more substantial. The hip-hop group debut a new song on Beats 1 with Zane Lowe called "Don't Don't Do It!," which has a guest feature from Kendrick Lamar.
On Kendrick's verse, the Compton, Calif. rapper addresses some of the injustices against young Black men, as well as how discrimination has been carried over into each generation. "Niggas, same rules, same chalk/Different decade, same law/Keep focus, you wanna get caught with your eyes open/You wanna stand clear of the prognosis," he rhymes.
"Reaching for your keys/Wait, is that your phone?/Got a TBI/Wait, is that police?/Get out for what?/I'm not your guy," Pharrell delivers.
During an interview with Lowe, Pharrell Wiliams reveals that the track was inspired by the death of Keith Scott at the hands of police. The shooting was filmed by his wife, who screams "don't do it" as the moment plays out.
"I was watching the news," Pharrell explains to Zane. "This gentleman by the name of Keith Scott was in his minivan. He was waiting on his child to get off the school bus. The authorities were looking for someone, someone who did not fit his description and based on what the story was, the vehicle did not fit the description either. I’m not sure if the vehicle was even part of the search.
"For whatever reason they encountered each other. His wife is standing trying to get him, the authorities tell her to stand back. She's filming the entire thing on her camera phone. She is saying, 'Don't do it. Don't don't do it. Don't do it Keith. Don't don't do it.' She’s telling the authorities that her husband has a TBI, that’s a Traumatic Brain Injury. They’re telling him to put his hands up or whatever and she knows, you can tell in her voice that she see what’s going to happen. She’s saying, 'Don’t do it. Don’t do it Keith. Don’t don’t do it.' And of course you know the way that turned out, he was killed."
Pharrell also name-drops Philando Castile, who was fatally shot in his vehicle after being pulled over by police.
"The thing that was ironic for me is when she’s saying to her husband, don’t do it, don’t don’t do it. Don’t do it Keith," he continues. "I’m thinking to myself, all of these unarmed African American motorists when you do what the authorities ask you to do I wonder before you die if your conscience says that to you or asks you or suggests to you 'don't do it, don't do it.' When they tell you to pull over, I wonder if Philando Castile, in his mind, was thinking don’t pull over.
"Any of them, I just wonder if they heard a voice in their mind after they were instructed to do something, if they heard a voice saying don’t do it. Don’t don't do it. And that's where the song came from. And so you know who better to enlist to help us communicate that feeling and that notion was Kendrick Lamar, and that’s how 'Don’t Don’t Do It' came about."
The super producer also further explains why they decided to recruit K. Dot for the innovative record, and why he admires him so much as an artist. He even deems him as a "jazz artist reincarnated."
"To me Kendrick is like probably a jazz artist reincarnated," Pharrell says. "The way that he handles the pen is kind of how Miles Davis handled the trumpet. Or how Coltrane fingers just shifted and sifted through his saxophone keys. It’s like his melodies are as prolific and what he has to say has so much harmony and so much color in it. You know what I’m saying? That’s why I compare him to a jazz artist because he rhymes and riffs.
"And then at the same time what he’s saying has so much color in the same way a jazz artist [scatting]. Incredible. Brilliant. You’re arguing and asking yourself is it brilliant colorful scribble or is it like really eloquent calligraphy? Is the way he’s rhyming, is that a drum roll or is that like an AR-15 with a banana clip? What is that? That is what a jazz musician is always able to do, a really good one."
Lowe also asks Williams about Frank Ocean's writing credit on the song, to which Pharrell admits that Frank wrote the introduction to the track.
"Frank wrote the intro," Pharrell explains. "'It makes no difference, it's just like...,' Like that was Frank. And if you listen to it like that's like a, that's totally like something that Frank would think. He is the arch of no compromise, no concession and very colorful with it you know? And that's what I feel is very interesting about his journey. Because if you understand him then you know anything that he's ever done is just what he's really really really felt.
"Nothing ever feels like a mistake with him but of course we all as human beings make mistakes. His ability to make nothing feel like a mistake or nothing feel like everything has purpose. Even his flaws just seem to be artful and well thought out."
Take a listen to N.E.R.D's new song, "Don't Don't Do It!," with Kendrick Lamar below, or check it out on iTunes here.
See 7 Rappers Who Think Kendrick Lamar Is One of the Best Rappers Alive