Kendrick Lamar Was the Fourth Rapper to Hear 9th Wonder's "Duckworth" Beats

"These are three different rappers rappers—rappers-everybody-knows rappers."

One of the many highlights on Kendrick Lamar's outstanding new album DAMN. is "Duckworth," a spellbinding record that tells the story of how TDE CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith could have killed Kendrick's father Ducky when they were teenagers.

While it's impossible to imagine the album without "Duckworth," according to the song's producer 9th Wonder, Kendrick wasn't the first emcee to hear or select any of the three beats that would eventually make up the 14th and final track on the LP.

"The three beats that ended up being on 'Duckworth,' I had played for three different people," 9th toldComplex, adding, "The three different people, they picked it, but they never used it at all. And these aren't three different everyday rappers. These are three different rappers rappers—rappers-everybody-knows rappers. But they never used the beats."

As the story goes, shortly after Rapsody—who is signed to 9th's Jamla Records—worked on Kendrick's GRAMMY-winning To Pimp a Butterfly, 9th played "like 15 beats in the studio one night" for Kendrick. After several months with no communication, Kendrick eventually sent a text message of a short video clip of the song that would eventually become "Duckworth" to 9th, which featured three of the beats fused into one song.

Similar to Steve Lacy, 9th Wonder's path to a production credit on an Album of the Year contender wasn't a straight line, but in the world of beat placements, that is par for the course.