Institutionalized
by Kendrick Lamar (featuring Snoop Dogg)

Album: To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)
Charted: 99

Songfacts®:

  • Kendrick Lamar's lyrics here are centered on the corruptive powers of wealth, and the strong hold institutionalization has on people living in the ghetto. The track was produced by K-Dot's frequent collaborator Rahki (he also helmed To Pimp a Butterfly's lead single "I") and Tommy Black, whose other Lamar credits include "Blow My High (Members Only)" "Heaven and Hell" and "Chapter Six."
  • Bilal croons the chorus from the perspective of K-Dot's grandma. The neo-soul singer, who has also worked with Common, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Beyoncé and The Roots, has multiple appearances on To Pimp A Butterfly. He told Billboard magazine: "I know I worked on a ton of songs when we were together in the studio. But I didn't know what was what. While we were in there, Kendrick said, 'I want you to be on a lot of the records.' I thought he was just saying that. [Laughs] Sometimes when you do songs, they don't always make the final cut. But wow, this is crazy and cool."
  • Snoop Dogg's bridge sets up Lamar's second verse, which is a conversation between the Compton rapper and his friend at a night club. Snoop also raps the outro, in which he describes the 5ft 6 Lamar as "5 foot something, dazed and confused. Talented but still under the neighborhood ruse."
  • Sonnymoon's Anna Wise (who sang on Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city song "Real") also contributes vocals, putting a female touch on the cut. She contributed to several other To Pimp A Butterfly tracks. Wise told Billboard magazine in March 2015: "I just kept going back and forth with him. He would fly me out and I would stay for extended periods of time. Even up to about a month after GKMC came out, I was kind of jumping around, I wasn't really staying in Boston at that time. I was upstate [New York], I was in San Francisco. Sonnymoon did three tours -- so we had a lot of stuff going on. But in between that, I would always come back to him."

    "We immediately started working on it," she added, "we did the "Institutionalized" intro almost two years ago."

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