The Curious Case of Kendrick Lamar: Is Kendrick’s Voice Getting Higher?

Something fishy is going on. I have four theories that could explain it.
Author:
Publish date:

Do me a favor and listen to these two Kendrick songs back to back.

Notice any difference?

"Backseat Freestyle" is from 2012 and "LOVE." is from 2017. Obviously, they're both great songs. Obviously "LOVE." is a little more radio-friendly. Obviously "Backseat Freestyle" has more references to premature ejaculation. But there’s one huge difference that can't be unnoticed once you hear it.

Kendrick’s voice.

"Backseat Freestyle" kicks off with Kendrick shouting “MARTIN HAD A DREAM” in a deep voice with a 2Pac-like cadence. "LOVE." starts off with Kendrick crooning “I wanna be with you” sounding like he just sucked helium out of 47 balloons in a row.

But why?

K. Dot has an on-and-off relationship with rapping in an odd, high-pitched voice. He used to just dabble in it, but it’s becoming more prominent. His voice seems to be getting higher with age. It doesn't make sense.

Is this simply an eccentric artistic decision... or is it something far deeper and potentially sinister? I don’t know, but we need to figure this shit out.

On his debut album, Section.80, Kendrick rarely deviates from his “normal voice.” No, this eerie trend didn't begin until later. The scandal didn’t truly start until he exploded into the mainstream with good kid, m.A.A.d city.

It didn't happen overnight. It was a slow, gradual process. Perhaps so we wouldn't notice.

On "Swimming Pools (Drank)," he slips into his nasally voice when he’s speaking from the POV of his conscience. In fact, there are many songs on GKMC where uses his normal voice during verses but his high-pitched voice during the hooks ("Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe," "Money Trees," "The Art of Peer Pressure," "Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst"). 

On his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, he continued to utilize this weird vocal style. It was becoming a trend. But there was no cause for alarm. Yet.

...And then, in 2016, VoiceGate™️ truly began.

On his 2016 project untitled unmastered., Kendrick uses his high-pitched voice on seven of the eight tracks. How could this be? What’s really going on here? At this point, it can't be an innocent coincidence. We need to start digging deeper.

Which brings us to his most recent studio album, DAMN., which I can only assume is shortened from its original title, DAMN, WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH MY VOICE?

On DAMN., Kendrick's voice is higher than it’s ever been in the past. Listen to "PRIDE."—he sounds like a toddler who just took his first bong hit. Listen to "LUST."—he sounds like a delightful hummingbird on a calm November morning. Listen to "BLOOD.," "ELEMENT.," "FEEL.," "HUMBLE.," "XXX.," "FEAR."—a vast majority of the tracks on the album. His voice just keeps getting squeakier.

Something fishy is going on. I have four theories that could explain it.

THEORY #1: KENDRICK IS AGING BACKWARDS

Kendrick is the rap game Benjamin Button. After looking into the progression of his voice, it’s super possible that Kendrick was born as an old man and is aging in reverse. If so, we only have like 10 years until he's an infant again. Frightening.

Perhaps “Pray For Me” from the Black Panther soundtrack is a literal plea for us to pray for him as he battles a rare, terrifying disease.

THEORY #2: KENDRICK IS AN ALIEN

In a guest verse on the remix of Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive," Kendrick spits a seemingly innocuous bar that now feels suspicious.

“Sky’s the limit, I gotta finish as the first rapper on Mars / Mark my words, I'ma make my mark even when they start that martial law / Even when these Martians alienate, my mental state is still at heart”

Wait a minute. “The first rapper on Mars”? “Even when these Martians alienate”? What is Kendrick hinting at?

Anyone who’s seen a Martian movie knows that Martians have unusually high-pitched voices. When K. Dot first came to Earth, he mastered his fake “Earth voice” by purposefully speaking lower. But over the years, he's gotten lazier with his Earthling impression and just said “Fuck it” and started speaking in his natural Martian voice.

On "Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe," Kendrick raps, “I can feel your energy from two planets away.” I bet you fuckin' can, alien.

THEORY #3: KENDRICK IS LYING ABOUT HIS AGE AND HE’S ACTUALLY A 12-YEAR-OLD GOING THROUGH PUBERTY

Celebrities lie about their age all the time. Most celebrities lie and say they’re younger, but Kendrick is lying and saying that he's older than he actually is. Maybe he's actually 12 and he’s currently going through the awkward heights of puberty where his voice keeps cracking.

If so, that means that he was six years old when he released good kid, m.A.A.d city, which is fucking incredible.

Other signs of puberty are hidden in plain sight throughout his lyrics. On the chorus of "HUMBLE.," where he says, “Sit down, be humble,” it's obviously him angrily talking to his first boner.

THEORY #4: IT’S DONALD TRUMP’S FAULT

Allow me to explain.

Kendrick’s voice didn’t start getting REALLY high until 2016, the same year that Trump’s hectic presidential campaign began to dominate the media cycle. Kendrick, being the militant and politically progressive artist he is, decided to protest Trump’s existence in a bizarre, unique way.

He thought Trump was childish. So as a metaphor for Donald’s delusional immaturity, Kendrick decided to purposefully sound like a child. The ridiculousness of his voice would, therefore, mirror the ridiculousness of Trump’s America. An avant-garde form of artistic activism.

Don’t get me wrong, none of this is a critique. I LOVE Kendrick. I think he’s one of the most masterful artists to ever step in a vocal booth.

But when it comes to his voice... we demand answers.

For more sponsored hip-hop video content like this, subscribe to the ADM YouTube channel here.

Related