Foreign Gists

How ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ helped Kendrick Lamar get a hit


Since his early mixtapes under the pen name of K.Dot, Kendrick Lamar has become the most prominent and respected rapper in modern-day hip-hop. The Compton native has forged his own path, shown unparalleled artistry in his work, and established a sound which has seamlessly made him a cultural kingpin.

Since his mainstream emergence in the early 2010s, the rapper has released highly acclaimed project after highly acclaimed project, with every body of work trumping its predecessor. His 2011 debut album, Section.80, was fresh and ahead of the curve, which resulted in Lamar becoming a 2011 XXL Freshman alongside the likes of Mac Miller and Meek Mill.

His follow-up album good kid, m.A.A.d. city, proved that Lamar was in the upper échelons of rap and by 2015, To Pimp a Butterfly was rightly dubbed a masterpiece of contemporary rap. The album was Lamar’s first to reach number one on the Billboard Top 200.

Lamar continued to follow suit with his albums on somewhat of a streak. The Compton rapper’s 2017 album DAMN. earned him his first number-one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 in the form of ‘Humble’ and even saw Lamar win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. With such reverence surrounding him and his name, one would assume that nothing as asinine and childish as The Power Puff Girls could be a part of Lamar’s music. However, in 2012, they were an integral part of his platinum-selling single, ‘Backseat Freestyle’.

‘Backseat Freestyle’ was produced by Kendrick Lamar’s go-to producer Hit-Boy. At the time, he took to Instagram to show fans how he made the beat, and revealed he slowed and pitched down The Chakachas’ 1970 song ‘Yo Soy Cubano’. Additionally, Hit-Boy also bizarrely sampled an episode of  The Powerpuff Girls. Underneath the video, the producer wrote a caption that read, “Don’t request to work wit me if you looking for something inside the box that sounds like whatever is going on chart-wise. Work wit me when you wanna be creative; I be sampling Powerpuff Girls and sh*t. Ask Kendrick Lamar.”

You can watch Hit-Boy delve into the details surrounding the beat in the video below as well as listen to the official ‘Backseat Freestyle’ track.