HUMBLE.

Album: DAMN. (2017)
Charted: 6 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • During this track, Kendrick Lamar challenges his fellow rap artists to sit down, be more humble, and respect his position as one of the greatest in the genre.

    Watch my soul speak, you let the meds talk, ayy
    If I kill a nigga, it won't be the alcohol, ayy
    I'm the realest nigga after all, bitch, be humble


    Unlike others in the hip-hop community, Lamar doesn't need alcohol or drugs to make meaningful music.
  • Lamar takes some shots at other rappers without calling them out directly. On the chorus, he raps:

    (Hol' up, bitch) sit down
    (Hol' up lil' bitch, hol' up lil' bitch) be humble


    This seems to be a reference to Big Sean's signature ad-libs of "lil bitch," like at the end of his verse on Drake's "All Me" and "hold up" such as on his early hit "Marvin & Chardonnay."
  • During the second verse, Lamar spits bars about being paged by Barack Obama, but refusing to flaunt his communication with the former US president.

    This s--t way too crazy, ayy, you do not amaze me, ayy
    I blew cool from AC, ayy, Obama just paged me, ayy
    I don't fabricate it, ayy, most of y'all be fakin', ayy
    I stay modest 'bout it, ayy, she elaborate it, ayy


    Barack Obama has stated several times that he is a fan of Lamar's music. According to a list of the first family's best pop culture picks in 2015, "How Much A Dollar Cost" was the then-POTUS's favorite song of that year.
  • The menacing beat is heavy on an 808 drum groove and also features a deep piano riff. It was provided by Mike WiLL Made-It, who first worked with the Compton MC in 2014 when Lamar spat some bars on the producer's Ransom posse cut "Buy the World". Lamar later contributed some rhymes to Mike WiLL Made-It's Ransom 2 track, "Perfect Pint."
  • The music video was directed by Dave Meyers & the Little Homies (Kendrick Lamar himself and TDE's Dave Free) It was shot in Los Angeles' famous Park Plaza Hotel (now known as The MacArthur) just five days before the song dropped.

    The opening shot, which features Kendrick dressed in papal garb, was shot in the hotel lobby. The later reenactment of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper painting was filmed in one of its banquet halls.

    Parts of the music clips for Steve Perry's "Oh Sherrie" and Maroon 5's "Sugar" were also filmed at the same hotel.
  • Mike WiLL Made-It's instrumentation was originally intended for Gucci Mane. "I knew that beat was going to capture a moment. It just felt real urgent," the producer told NPR. "I made that beat [in 2016] when Gucci Mane was getting out of jail; I made it with him in mind. I was just thinking, damn, Gucci's about to come home; it's got to be something urgent that's just going to take over the radio. And I felt like that beat was that."

    "I ended up not doing it with Gucci and I let Kendrick hear it," he added. "I was thinking, 'If Dot gets on this it'll be his first time being heard on some[thing] like this.' At the same time, it kind of has an NWA/Dr. Dre feel, an Eminem kind of feel. So I thought, let me see if Dot f---s with it. And he heard the beat and he liked it.

    "But he was about to give me 'Humble' for [my album] Ransom 2," the producer continued. "I love that song so I was like, 'Man, hell yeah.' Then he told me that his team was saying he should keep it. And I told him, 'Bruh, you definitely should keep it, and you should use it as your single."
  • Speaking with Rolling Stone, Kendrick Lamar explained the inspiration behind the song's repeated command to be humble:

    "All I could think of was [Marley Marl's] 'The Symphony' and the earliest moments of hip-hop, where it's complex simplicity, but it's also somebody making moves," he said. "That beat feels like my generation, right now. The first thing that came to my head was, 'Be humble.'"
  • This won for Video of the Year, Best Hip-Hop Video, Best Direction, Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. Lamar opened the broadcast with a performance of song (along with "DNA.") where he was joined on stage by a team of ninjas.
  • This won for Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance and Best Music Video at the Grammy Awards in 2018. Lamar opened the show, performing the songs "XXX." and "King's Dead."
  • This came in at #1 on Australian radio network Triple J's 2017 Hottest 100 poll, one of the world's biggest fan-voted music competitions. Lamar was the first artist of color to win the countdown and the second hip-hop artist, after Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" topped the list in 2012.
  • Kendrick Lamar won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music for DAMN, becoming the first non-jazz or classical artist to ever win the award. The organizers described the album as "a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life."
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