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Listen to N.E.R.D.'s Kendrick Lamar Collaboration, "Don't Don't Do It!"

Frank Ocean also contributed to the third official single from 'No_One Ever Really Dies.' It's a step up from a couple of baffling recent songs.

by Alex Robert Ross
Dec 13 2017, 5:35pm

Kendrick Lamar is the special guest on N.E.R.D's new song, "Don't Don't Do It!," the third official single to be released from their forthcoming LP, No_One Ever Really Dies. The song premiered on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 Radio show today, alongside an interview with N.E.R.D's de facto frontman, Pharrell Williams.

"Don't Don't Do It!" is a marked improvement on the baffling sonic clatter of the Future-featuring "1000" and the bizarre André 3000 collaboration, "Rollinem 7's." There's still an insistent beat underpinning the groove, but there's a melody to "Don't Don't Do It!" that's been absent—or at least buried—on previous singles. The intro was written by Frank Ocean, which can't hurt when you're searching for some arressting smoothness.

And when the band are ruminating on police brutality, a little audio clarity is vital. In an interview with Lowe, Pharrell said that the song was written in response to the death of Keith Lamont Scott, an unarmed black man shot to death by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina last year.

I’m thinking to myself, all of these unarmed African-American motorists, when you do what the authorities ask you to do, I wonder before you die if your conscience says that to you or asks you or suggests to you, "don't do it, don't do it." When they tell you to pull over, I wonder if Philando Castile, in his mind, was thinking, "don’t pull over." Any of them, I just wonder if they heard a voice in their mind after they were instructed to do something, if they heard a voice saying, "Don’t do it. Don’t don't do it." And that's where the song came from. And so. you know, who better to enlist to help us communicate that feeling and that notion was Kendrick Lamar.

Pharrell also discussed Lamar's importance to modern music, and N.E.R.D's reasons for inviting him onto "Don't Don't Do It!"

To me Kendrick is like probably a jazz artist reincarnated. 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. It’s like his melodies are as prolific and what he has to say has so much harmony and so much color in it. You know what I’m saying? That’s why I compare him to a jazz artist because he rhymes and riffs. And then at the same time what he’s saying has so much color in the same way a jazz artist [scatting]. Incredible. Brilliant. You’re arguing and asking yourself is it brilliant colorful scribble or is it like really eloquent calligraphy? Is the way he’s rhyming, is that a drumroll or is that like an AR-15 with a banana clip? What is that? That is what a jazz musician is always able to do, a really good one.

Listen to "Don't Don't Do It" below.

Follow Alex Robert Ross on Twitter.