Kendrick Lamar has given us some amazing music, but lately it seems like we're hearing more about the music he hasn’t released.
First there was that J.Cole and Kendrick album that the internet got in its head would be released in February, then it was a GRAMMY performance with yet another unreleased, untitled song making it’s debut. Everyone from your humble neighborhood blogger to Lebron fucking James seems to want unreleased music from Kendrick.
There’s been a long history of Kendrick seemingly throwing the laws of time, space and traditional rollouts to the wind. Kendrick scrapped two or three albums worth of material before recording To Pimp A Butterfly and one of his best songs ever, “Cartoon & Cereal,” was dropped from GKMC, only to be brought back for the Alright music video accompanied by another unofficial song affectionately dubbed the “front seat freestyle.”
Kendrick has been known to sit on beats for years, patiently waiting to use them on the right album (see Knxwledge’s "Momma"), as well as employing an off-the-beaten-path Tupac song for inspiration on many records. Kendrick seems to have a 10 year plan, Nostradamus-ing the shit out of his projects years in advance - his mysterious ways are what makes this all so intriguing but also so maddening.
That said, prepared to get even thirstier. In an unearthed interview from 2009, a young, pre-Overly Dedicated Kendrick Lamar hinted at another project, one that never was released.
Got my next mixtape coming out, “Before I Commit Suicide” got another coming out called motherfucking “Good Kid Maad City.”
First, Good Kid m.A.A.d City was a mixtape?! Kendrick’s debut album, the one that made him into the Kendrick we know today, was originally a mixtape planned for a 2009-2010 release? Good Kid m.A.A.d City was a thing even before Overly Dedicated or Section.80? I’d have to imagine that the early version of GKMC was very different from the one we all heard, right? Kendrick was a vastly different emcee before TDE started to take off and before he was co-signed by Dr. Dre.
Further proof that Kendrick thinks years in advance, it’s kind of dizzying to envision about all the songs, projects, samples, bars and concepts he must be juggling at one time. Image trying to perform To Pimp A Butterfly while dreaming up an album three projects in advance, all while bringing back old songs that were originally concepts within a freestyle. Still with me?
Now, onto this unreleased Before I Commit Suicide mixtape.
Man, I’m dying to know what happened. Aside from one record, “Before I Commit Suicide” - featuring The O.C.’s “Time’s Up” instrumental - and the little plug Kendrick gave it, there’s next to no public information on this tape. I did my best internet sleuthing and the closest I came is this private download link, which Universal probably had Hulkshare kill many moons ago.
It seems every discovery only leads to more mystery and there’s never a full picture to be painted. I keep running into prehistoric fossils that are lying around, but there are never enough to make up a full dinosaur. I spent all day trying to track down any clues as to the whereabouts of this mixtape, but per usual, I was only left with more questions than answers.
Rappers often tend to hyperbolize and blow smoke. Was Kendrick just gassed up? Did the tape just morph into Section.80? Or maybe Good Kid m.A.A.d. City? Maybe a little bit of both? Depression and suicide are powerful themes on To Pimp A Butterfly; what if records like “u” or “i” were born from Before I Commit Suicide? Then again, the intro itself doesn’t have that kind of feel to it. It’s more aggressive and in your face than contemplative.
Articles that ask a question and don’t answer it tend to be annoying, but I don't know how to end this other than asking…
...what the hell happened to that “Before I Commit Suicide” tape?!?
UPDATE: TDE President Punch responded to this article with the original blueprint for Kendrick's career.