Unplugged Headphones: Chapter Six (Kendrick Lamar)

“Pray that we make it to twenty one (one, one, one)”

Kendrick Lamar’s music has always appealed to me because of his whit, wordplay and mastery of the art of storytelling. Even though this song is only three lines, for me it’s just as complex as anything he’s ever written before.

This is one of those songs that says a lot without actually saying a lot.

As a 22 year old you’d think that Kendrick’s prayer that he (and we) make it to the age of 21 would have fallen on deaf ears but it resonates even more deeply. From personal experience I know that making it to the age of 21 is not a given, not everyone is blessed enough to see that day.

“Riding with them boys and girls and we’re high (high)
All we want to do is have a good time (time)
Young wild and reckless is how we live life (life)”

A few years ago I lost a friend that I had known since the age of 6. As we grew older we grew apart, he made choices that led him down a path he ultimately couldn’t turn back from and maybe I could have done more to keep him on the straight and narrow…

There isn’t a time when this song comes on shuffle and I don’t remember him or ponder the uncertainty of life.


I never share my poetry, but it seems fitting for this blog post. So I’ll do it this once.

If You Came From Where I Come From You Would Be A Lot Warier,

Bullet Holes And Stab Wounds Spread Faster Than Malaria,

And What’s Even Scarier?

Mum’s Burying Their Kids and Kids Burying Olders,

It’s Not Something I Ever Did, But I’ve Seen It Over And Over,

Until The Violence Is Done I Won’t Have Closure,

My Boy Getting Chased By The Feds,

Couldn’t Breath, Couldn’t Breath… Now He’s Halfway Dead,

Lying On A Hospital Bed,

They Said He Might Never Wake Up…

Acceptance. That’s Difficult For Me To Take Up…

He Chose The Wrong Path, But He Was Only Young,

Birthdays 3 Days Apart, I Just Turned Twenty-One,

And His Mum’s Still At The Hospital, Praying For Her Son…