Here at the end of 2015, Kendrick Lamar has 11 Grammy nominations and this generation’s civil rights anthem, “Alright,” which teeters on the edge of hell before revealing its promise. That song was produced by Sounwave and Pharrell, for Kendrick’s March album, To Pimp a Butterfly. Now, it’s been remixed by another Butterfly producer and longtime Kendrick guru, Terrace Martin. The new jazz rendition is called “Alright (11).”
If not on its surface, jazz is in “Alright”’s DNA. Martin gifted Kendrick John Coltrane's A Love Supreme halfway into the recording of To Pimp a Butterfly. “I don’t even think that I actually [listened to jazz] before,” Kendrick told The FADER this summer. “I’ll tell you this: the majority of the beat selections that I was picking early on in my career was all jazz-influenced, but I never knew…The reason why I really gravitated toward it is because I look at myself as a jazz musician, using my voice as its own instrument.”
"This song speaks for the world. It’s pure love being poured out from a place of hope and faith,” Martin said of his remix, which backs Kendrick with saxophone, organ, and cheers, and is more chill but no less ferocious than the original. “I wanted to do this remix as my part to continue to push the message of love and to celebrate change! My only goal with all my music is to help and spread good vibes. I’m just happy we are helping to push a positive energy around the world."
For that work, I'm thankful.