Kendrick Lamar – How Much a Dollar Cost (REACT: Lyric Breakdown)


♪ (rock music) ♪ – Oh, wow. This sounds
like rap. (clears throat) (rapping) “How much a dollar really cost? The question is detrimental,
paralyzin’ my thoughts. Parasites in my stomach
keep me with a gut feeling, y’all.” – I’m guessing it’s probably like hop hop. – Probably a rapper or
something, talking like that. – It’s like an existential crisis. How much does a dollar really cost? You know what? A lot more
than you actually would think. – He’s talking about
the value of a dollar, like how much are you
willing to do for a dollar? Just the idea of that makes me sick. – “Gotta see how I’m chillin’
once I park this luxury car. Hopping out feeling big
as Mutombo. ’20 on pump 6.'” – I like the Dikembe Mutombo
reference, you know? ‘Cause of basketball. Feeling pretty awesome
if they’re as big as Mutombo. That’s a seven-footer. – It sounds like someone
who is doing well now. – When it says, “20 on pump 6,” I’m thinking about $20 on pump 6. But he’s driving a luxury car,
and he’s only putting $20. It’s kind of a front,
like he just stunting. – That seems kind of like
proletariat, working class. Like, “$20 on pump 6.” Like, “Not fill it up
using my black card.” – “Walked out the gas
station, a homeless man with a semi-tan complexion
asked me for ten rand, stressin’ about dry land.” – “Deep water, powder blue skies
that crack open a piece of crack that he wanted. I knew he was smokin’. He begged and pleaded,
asked me to feed him twice. I didn’t believe it, told him, ‘Beat it.'” – He’s using the word “crack”
in a couple different ways to get to the fact that this guy
looks like he’s on crack. – So he’s saying, “Oh,
the homeless man was like, ‘Give me money. I haven’t eaten.'”
And this guy’s going, “Uh-uh, you want to buy
and smoke a crack pipe, so beat it.” – He or she probably feels
that he’s worked for what he has and that that person is there
because he can do the same thing, which isn’t necessarily the case,
but people have that attitude. “Contributin’ money just
for his pipe. I couldn’t see it. He said, ‘My son, temptation
is one thing that I’ve defeated.'” – “‘Listen to me, I want
a single bill from you. Nothin’ less, nothin’ more.’ I told him I ain’t have it
and closed my door.” – A guy walked up on him and
was like, “Hey, come on, for real. Just one single, or can
you just give me a little bit?” – Damn, that’s cold. He’s asking for a dollar. Maybe he’s gonna go buy a burger with it. Maybe he’s gonna go buy crack with it. So maybe, “I just shut the door, ’cause I go, I’m not
gonna feed your habit. But maybe I’m making
the wrong assumption.” – This could be like a relation to Jesus, like some scripture stuff, saying, “Oh, Jesus came and asked me
for a dollar, and I said no.” That sucks. – If he’s rolling around
in that luxury car, he obviously has it, and he just
doesn’t want to give it to him. My own philosophy is
somebody’s hurting enough to ask, I’m probably gonna give. – “I never understood
someone beggin’ for goods, askin’ for handouts,
takin’ it if they could. And this particular person
just had it down pat, starin’ at me for the longest
until he finally asked…” – “‘Have you ever opened up Exodus 14? A humble man is all that we ever need.'” – Really? Okay, sorry. I just can’t believe he put
the Bible in this. (chuckles) – The artist, I guess, is a person who’s always done things for themselves to try to make their own–
doesn’t understand how you can ask for something
without anything else in return. – The guy asking for money
busts out a Bible verse. Okay? Really trying to play
the conscience card. – Now what they’ve done is
they’ve actually stooped to the level of using the Bible. – Now scripture’s in there,
and that is some heavy, ’cause if you know your scripture, right, you’re supposed to take care, you’re supposed to feed the hungry. “Are you a religious man? I don’t know.” That’s what that guy’s asking. – We have all begged for handouts. Now, sometimes people
need help with money. Other times, you need help
for emotional support. So stop judging people who need handouts. – “Tell me how much a dollar cost.
It’s more to feed your mind. Water, sun, and love– the one you love. All you need, the air you breathe.” So he’s back to the, “Tell me
how much a dollar cost,” from the first line. – It’s more like the value of life. Like, how much do you love yourself? How much could a dollar feed you? How much could love feed you? – Money isn’t worth a lot,
like material things. But it meant something
to the homeless man. So I don’t– it’s kind of contradictory. – The artist is challenging the listener to ask himself that question.
Like, what is more important: to be materialistic or
to not be materialistic? – That is a very simplistic
way to look at life. It’s very easy to say this
when you have a full belly and a roof over your head.
Once those things are taken care of, then you start going, “Oh, well, now I can appreciate
the beauty of the world.” – “Guilt-trippin’ and feelin’ resentment. I never met a transient
that demanded attention. They got me frustrated,
indecisive, and power-trippin’.” – Now, this is poetry, guys. – He’s really upset at his own ego, because he’s being challenged on it. – He’s power-tripping ’cause he’s like, “Well, I got to where I am
because of the work I put in. What work are you putting in?” – It’s not even about
the homeless man anymore. It’s about himself. It’s like,
“Do I want to do the right thing? What is the right thing to do? And now I feel guilty about it,
and I feel bad about it.” – “Sour emotions got me
lookin’ at the universe different. I should distance myself.
I should keep it relentless. My selfishness is what got me here.
Who the [bleep] I’m kiddin’?” – He’s looking at his own emotions now about what he did or
didn’t do, how he reacted. – “Who the [bleep] am I kidding
with this show of this car? Who the [bleep] I think I am
that I’m not helping this person? Am I any better than him?
Like, why shouldn’t I believe him?” – He probably saying,
“I know I’ve done dirt before, and I probably sold drugs before, and I’m trying to act like
I’m so innocent and I’m so holy to try to stop this person.
But in real talk, I probably do the same stuff that he do.” – You kind of feel like, when you
work hard, you busted your ass and you feel like everybody else
should to get where you got. It’s not just work. Sometimes it’s luck. – “So I’ma tell you like
I told the last bum: crumbs and pennies, I need all of mines.” – “And I recognize this type
of panhandling all the time. I got better judgment.
I know when [bleep] hustlin’.” – “Keep in mind, when I was strugglin’, I did compromise. Now I comprehend.” – Maybe this guy knows from experience what it’s like to be down and out. – He was on that same end
of the homeless person, that he was there struggling. But he compromised.
And instead of asking for handouts, he worked really hard
to try to get to the top, and then he made it. – He worked for his, and
he’s gonna keep all of his. But you have something.
Congratulations, you have something. You did it. That’s all your hard work. But what are you giving back? – “I smell Grandpa’s old medicine,
reekin’ from your skin. The jig is up. I seen you
from a mile away losin’ focus. And I’m insensitive, and I lack empathy.” – “He looked at me and said,
‘Your potential is bittersweet.’ I looked at him and said,
‘Every nickel is mines to keep.'” – He’s trying to be strict with him.
He’s trying to tell him, “Shape up. I’m not gonna
be giving you anything.” – He’s completely put up that wall. – “Medicine” is the alcohol. – “I smell what’s happening,
I see your out-of-focus eyes, and I know you’re not
getting any dime of mine.” And I’ll say I’ve been in that
place too, right? Who hasn’t? – “He looked at me and said,
‘Know the truth; it’ll set you free. You’re lookin’ at the Messiah,
the son of Jehovah, the higher power. The choir that spoke
the word, the Holy Spirit.'” – “‘The nerve of Nazareth, and I’ll tell you just
how much a dollar cost. The price of having a spot
in Heaven, embrace your loss. I am God.'” – Wow. If he wasn’t messed up before,
he’s really messed up now. – He’s trying to give everyone
some spiritual lectures. – It’s interesting because
we don’t know who that is. So if you’re telling me you’re God, how the [bleep] do I know
if you are or not? – God is in all of us, right?
God is everyone? So that’s what the homeless man
is pulling out of his hat. That’s some heavy,
heavy stuff right there. – The person who’s asking
for the money is letting him know that money is not that important. What he’s giving up to get that money is costing him his place in Heaven. – “Shades of grey will
never change if I condone. Turn this page, help me change,
so right my wrongs.” – He’s looking for assistance
to try and move forward. – He’s thinking about
things more and saying, “Okay, I do need it.
I need help with this.” So rather than being
the one giving the help, he’s become the one needing the help. – Considering what it took
him to get that dollar, what that dollar cost him,
how he got there in the first place, if he condones this,
if he hands this guy a buck and the guy goes out and scores, it’s just perpetuating a problem. Damn. That is PROFOUND right there. – (Finebros) So what was this song about? – It’s about a man who obviously
worked for what he has, and he has lots of material wealth and feels like he shouldn’t share it to perpetuate society’s ills. – Not relating to people,
relating to people, being able to put ourselves
in someone else’s shoes, and accepting the fact
that we do not know it all. – Choices along life,
whether they are minor choices that don’t really seem
like much at one point. They could be major choices that could affect you later on down the road. – (Finebros) Do you know
the song’s title and artist? – Mm-mm. – I have no clue. – No. – I do not. – I don’t! – I have no idea, and I’m
impressed, whoever it is. I want to know. – That Diddy guy? – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis? – (Finebros) So this song is
“How Much a Dollar Cost” by Kendrick Lamar.
– Kendrick Lamar. – Okay, I’ve heard the name. – I can’t believe I don’t know this. – Oh man. (chuckles) Oh, my daughter’s gonna kill me. – I don’t listen to Kendrick
that much, but perhaps I should. – (Finebros) Lamar told MTV
that this song is based off a true experience which
made him reflect on his career and his relationship with others. Lamar has struggled to reconcile
with his newfound fame and status with the circumstances under which he grew up in Compton. – I’m sure that’s a real struggle. I mean, people think, once you have money, everything gets solved. But you tend to go inwards
and reflect a lot, and that’s what he’s doing. – It’s kinda nice when
you listen to a song and you know that
it comes from their heart. – When you’re raised in a certain area and you finally make it on top, “I bust myself so hard, bust my butt
so hard to get where I’m at. You know, you could do the same thing. You’re no different than me.” – When you dissect it and you
have a better understanding, then you see that this song
is really another mask to hide your insecurities. – You got it all, right? So doesn’t the Lord
tell you to share it all? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? But do you really want to?
‘Cause how much did that dollar cost you to make in the first place?
That is the human condition. Kendrick Lamar, genius. – Thanks for watching us break down
“How Much a Dollar Cost” on the React channel. – What song should we
break down next time? Let us know in the comments. – (rapping) It doesn’t cost
a dollar to hit that Like button, so hit it. – See you next time! ♪ (rock music) ♪

100 thoughts on “Kendrick Lamar – How Much a Dollar Cost (REACT: Lyric Breakdown)

  1. Exodus 14 is the crossing of the Red Sea. The man could have been on the way to Freedom, already stating he defeated temptation.

  2. Look How His Lyrics Changed Them. At first They Didnt Take It Serious Then They Changed And Became Willing To Understand

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