Don't Don't Do It!
by N.E.R.D (featuring Kendrick Lamar)

Album: No One Ever Really Dies (2017)
  • This socially aware song was written by Pharrell Williams after the fatal police shooting of 43-year-old African-American Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2016. "I was watching the news. This gentleman by the name of Keith Scott was in his minivan," explained Pharrell to Zane Lowe during his Beats 1 show. "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."
  • Scott's wife can be heard yelling "Don't do it!" in the background on the tape of the shooting. "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,'" Pharrell said. "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 sees what's going to happen," he added. "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."
  • The song's instrumentation is upbeat despite its tragic storyline. Pharrell explained the dissonance between the topic and the sound of the track to The Guardian:

    "We have that crazy, crazy man [running the country] but also they have police that shoot unarmed black people the whole time," he said. "It rains and they shoot black people. I hid the story in something that's so jubilant because that way you won't miss the message."
  • The song's intro was written (but not performed) by Frank Ocean. "He is the arch of no compromise, no concession and very colorful with it," Pharrell said of the singer-songwriter. "And that's what, I feel like, that's what 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."
  • Ocean has previously worked with Pharrell on several his tracks. The pair co-produced "Sweet Life" and "Pink + White," while Pharrell served as co-writer on "End/Golden Girl."
  • Kendrick Lamar contributes a blistering verse in which he tackles police brutality, the death of African Americans and the media. "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," said Pharrell about the Compton MC. "It's like his melodies are as prolific and what he has to say has so much harmony and so much color in it."

    Lamar appears on another song from the No One Ever Really Dies album, "Kites," which also features M.I.A.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"They're Playing My Song

As a songwriter and producer, Narada had hits with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Starship. But what song does he feel had the greatest impact on his career?

Billy Joe ShaverSongwriter Interviews

The outlaw country icon talks about the spiritual element of his songwriting and his Bob Dylan mention.

Artis the SpoonmanSong Writing

Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?

Booker T. JonesSongwriter Interviews

The Stax legend on how he cooked up "Green Onions," the first time he and Otis Redding saw hippies, and if he'll ever play a digital organ.

Did They Really Sing In That Movie?Fact or Fiction

Bradley Cooper, Michael J. Fox, Rami Malek, Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney: Which actors really sang in their movies?

Marc Campbell - "88 Lines About 44 Women"They're Playing My Song

The Nails lead singer Marc Campbell talks about those 44 women he sings about over a stock Casio keyboard track. He's married to one of them now - you might be surprised which.