Mike WiLL Made the Second Half of “DNA.” Because Kendrick Couldn’t Stop Rapping

By | Posted April 25, 2017
"Just imagine him a cappella rapping the second half of 'DNA.' and I had to build a beat around that."
2017-04-25-mike-will-kendrick-lamar-dna
Photo Credit: Geo Law

Kendrick Lamar's "DNA." is the hardest song of 2017 (I would say "so far," but I honestly can't see anything topping it). The first half of the song could burn down an entire neighborhood; the second half makes you want to tear it down your damn self. Kendrick's blistering second verse and Mike WiLL Made-It's face-scrunching production feels like a chemical explosion in your ears, but that's not quite how it went down in the studio.

In a new interview with NPR, Mike WiLL Made-It reveals how the second half of "DNA." actually came about after Kendrick laid down his vocals. Kung Fu Kenny was so dialed in he continued rapping after the initial beat finished playing and asked Mike WiLL to build a new beat around his a cappella vocals.

"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 that s*** to sound just as crazy. I wanted it to sound like he's battling the beat."

When asked what direction Kendrick gave him, Mike WiLL replied:

"He said he wanted the s*** to just sound like chaos. So then, I ended up making a beat around it right in front of him, but it was still open. I think in his head he knows what he's looking for, but he doesn't really tell me anything to put me in any kind of box. He just wants to hear all the different ideas. He gets a lot of beats and I think he just hops on whatever he catches that vibe to."

Mike WiLL also produced DAMN.'s explosive lead single, "HUMBLE.," which was originally supposed to appear on Ransom 2 before Kendrick's team urged him to keep it for himself. In fact, it almost wasn't a Kendrick Lamar song at all.

"I made that beat [last year] when Gucci Mane was getting out of jail; I made it with him in mind," Mike WiLL explained. "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."

The rest is history—chart-topping, record-breaking history. Funny how hit songs almost don't happen.

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