OPINION: Kendrick Lamar song a lesson in chance

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, famously known as Kendrick Lamar, knows all about chance and he explains the meaning of chance through the lyrics of his song “DUCKWORTH” which he released seven years ago.  

In honor of the song’s anniversary on April 14, here is a further discussion of what chance means to Lamar.  

“DUCKWORTH” begins with him describing how he always felt like it was him against the world. He fought what surrounded him, not what was within him. He recognized that to fight what is within him he must acknowledge that he is in control of himself. 

Lamar begins to lyrically reflect on his life when he smoked cannabis, lived in poverty and was surrounded by gang activity and violence.  

He grapples with reconnecting to his introverted self and intense thoughts, which are the inspiration for his songs, with his extroverted self, which is a necessity for being a performer; it results in an internal conflict within him. 

He continues his reflection by discussing living in California’s government housing and how being surrounded by such poverty within the projects forced many individuals and their families into crime and drugs so that they could survive.  

This is when the narrative skills of Lamar come into play. He introduces a man named Anthony. The lyrics begin to describe the struggles Anthony faced throughout his life and how he rose to become the leader locally in criminal activity. He emphasizes Anthony’s countless run-ins with the law. 

Like before, Anthony is in a situation where he may face the law again and to avoid this, he goes into a local Kentucky Fried Chicken, where he encounters an employee called Ducky, who is Lamar’s father.  

Ducky knew who Anthony was, and he knew that Anthony and his crew robbed KFC frequently. He also knew that amid a robbery the previous year, they had shot a customer.  

From that day on, any time Anthony came in to get food, Ducky made sure to slip some extra biscuits and chicken into his bag to remain cordial.  

Ducky’s efforts did not go unnoticed because the next time Anthony and his crew robbed KFC, they spared his life.  

The most crucial aspect of the song is when Lamar reveals that if Anthony had shot Ducky that day then Anthony would probably have gone to prison. 

He never would have had the chance to start a record label, Top Dog Records, the label that signed 15-year-old Kendrick Lamar. 

Yet, if Anthony had killed Ducky that day, Lamar would have grown up without his father; meaning the chance of him living a lifestyle affiliated with crime, drugs and gangs was high. 

He assumes that this lifestyle would have resulted in his death before Lamar would have known the capabilities that raised him to success.  

Lamar describes Anthony and Ducky’s reconciliation 20 years afterward. Lamar explains how he brought the two together in a recording studio where they endeavor the chance of what could have been and reflect the satisfaction of chance that is reality. 

When I first listened to this song, I knew that it had a deeper meaning to it, and it did. Although we have individual experiences that shape our lives, I connected with Lamar’s demonstration of chance within “DUCKWORTH.” 

The decisions we make affect others, and the chance of different outcomes or circumstances is based on what we choose to decide. I believe “DUCKWORTH” serves as a reminder of this.