"HUMBLE" Is 2017's Biggest Beat, But Mike WiLL Didn't Originally Intend It for Kendrick
And everything else we learned from this new interview with the Atlanta producer.
Now a bonafide Number One single, Kendrick Lamar's "HUMBLE" is on course to become one of 2017's signature songs, memorable for years to come—people in the future, I'm sure, will ask: "where were you when you first saw the perfectly-lit shot of Kendrick in the hair salon?"
Like every huge track, "HUMBLE" went on quite a journey from its inception to its eventual release, according to a new interview with its producer Mike WiLL Made-It from NPR. In the interview, Mike WiLL reveals that he originally made the "HUMBLE" beat not for Kendrick at all—it was intended, he says, for Gucci Mane, potentially for his first release after leaving prison last year:
"With "HUMBLE," I knew that beat was going to capture a moment. It just felt real urgent. I made that beat [last year] 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."
As we know, that wasn't to be, but in Kendrick's hands the beat still maintained that intrinsic urgency, with one of the year's hardest vocal takes on it to boot. The rest, as they say, was history. However "HUMBLE" wasn't the only DAMN. cut that Mike WiLL worked on: he also produced "DNA," the album's second single (and therefore he's largely responsible for the sound that marketing the album has led with), and revealed that the song was created around K Dot's verses, rather than by him hopping on a pre-made beat:
With "DNA," he went the whole way [through] and then he just started rapping a cappella. He said, 'I just want to see if you can put some drums around this.' I said, 'Man, hell yeah.' But he was going so hard; that man was rapping so crazy. Just imagine him a cappella rapping the second half of "DNA." and I had to build a beat around that. I didn't want the beat to just sound like a regular boom-clap, boom-clap. [...] I wanted it to sound like he's battling the beat.
So if you didn't think Kendrick Lamar was a sonic visionary before, I hope you do now. Read the rest of the interview here, feel extremely inspired, and reward yourself by listening to "HUMBLE" for what I hope is not the first time today.
Follow Noisey on Twitter.
(Image via Mike WiLL Made-It on Instagram)