Far from the life-affirming lyrics of "I", Kendrick's new track “The Blacker The Berry” marks a much darker, angrier direction for the artist.
The racially-charged song sees the 27-year-old rapper hit out at racists in the US, criticising the ill-treatment of African Americans across the country – and implicitly referencing the events that led up to the Ferguson unrest.
Kendrick raps: “Came from the bottom of mankind / My hair is nappy, my dick is big, my nose is round and wide / You hate me don’t you? / You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture / You’re f*ckin’ evil I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey.”
But the song is also thought to be a response from the rapper after criticism he received over comments about Ferguson.
He told Billboard last year: "What happened to [Michael Brown] should've never happened. Never. But when we don't have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within."
His comments sparked a backlash from fellow US rapper Azealia Banks, who called it "the dumbest sh*t I've ever heard a black man say".
The black community will NEVER be able to "fix" itself so long as we're living within white means and by white devices.— AZEALIA BANKS (@AZEALIABANKS) January 9, 2015
"When we don't respect ourselves how can we expect them to respect us" dumbest shit I've ever heard a black man say.— AZEALIA BANKS (@AZEALIABANKS) January 9, 2015
Kendrick ends his song by highlighting the hypocrisy of the African American community, who protest when a white policeman shoots a black person but never speak out when black people shoot each other.
“So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street? / When gang banging make me kill a n*gga blacker than me? / Hypocrite!”
The release comes after Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels told The Independent that radios were “too afraid” to play Kendrick Lamar because he speaks the truth.
“I don’t believe in conspiracy theories but people are scared of a young man that looks like that from their neighbourhood talking about real issues,” he said.
It is thought “The Blacker The Berry” will appear on Kendrick’s anticipated new album due out later this year, but it has yet to be confirmed.