Kendrick Lamar Performs These Walls For the First Time on Television (Video)

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Kendrick Lamar’s song “These Walls” is one of the most complex in the dense stew that is To Pimp a Butterfly. The track, which features Anna Wise and Bilal, is as much Neo Soul as it is Hip-Hop, laced with lush instrumentation from Thundercat’s bass, Terrace Martin’s saxophone and keys from Larrance Dopson.

Beyond the music, however, Kendrick seamlessly weaves through metaphors, beginning with the sensual vaginal walls of a lover and ending with the walls of a prison that house her “baby daddy” who is incarcerated for killing a close friend of the Compton MC. It is, at once, a love song and a tale of revenge.

Kendrick performed “These Walls” for the first time ever on television, guesting on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and his live rendition of the song was equally complex. In addition to K. Dot, the presentation included a couple doing interpretive dance, while an artist painted them in motion. Afterward, Ellen interviewed Kendrick briefly, discussing his recent Grammy win and his mission to help save lives through his music.

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