Poetic Justice (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Poetic Justice"
Single by Kendrick Lamar featuring Drake
from the album Good Kid m.A.A.d City
ReleasedJanuary 15, 2013 (2013-01-15)
GenreHip hop
Producer(s)Scoop DeVille
Kendrick Lamar singles chronology
"Backseat Freestyle"
"Poetic Justice"
Drake singles chronology
"Lord Knows"
"Poetic Justice"
"Love Me"
Music video
"Poetic Justice" on YouTube

"Poetic Justice" is a song by American rapper Kendrick Lamar, from his major-label debut studio album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012). The song, produced by American record producer Scoop DeVille, features a verse from Canadian rapper Drake. The song was released as the album's fourth official single, due to its positive response.


The song was produced by Scoop DeVille, who Lamar had previously worked with on his debut single "The Recipe". DeVille sampled Janet Jackson's "Any Time, Any Place." Lamar and DeVille chose to sample the record after it came on the radio during their studio session.[1] In an interview, DeVille recalled several artists wanting the song, including American rapper 50 Cent, before he ended up giving it to Lamar.[2] On January 26, 2013, Lamar performed the song on Saturday Night Live, as well as his previous single "Swimming Pools (Drank)."[3]

Music video[edit]

In a December 2012 interview, Lamar stated that the music video would be filmed "soon." Although he expressed interest in having the legendary Janet Jackson herself, who starred in the 1993 film from which the song takes its name, to appear in the video,[4] she did not make an appearance.[5]

The music video, directed by The Lil Homie, Dee.Jay.Dave and Dangeroo Kipawaa, was released February 22, 2013. The video features cameo appearances by Jay Rock, YG and Glasses Malone.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

The song garnered critical acclaim. Reviews complimented the performances of both rappers, but most of the praise went out to the sampling of Janet Jackson's hit "Any Time, Any Place".[citation needed] The Irish Times complimented it as one of the best tracks from Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.[7] MTV called the song "flawless" and one of the most anticipated collaborations of the album.[8]

“Poetic Justice” is also infamous as a “false empowerment anthem” for East African Girls due to Drake's arguably fetishistic feature.[9] He raps:

Young East African Girl, you too busy fucking with your other man/I was trying to put you on game, put you on a plane/ Take you and your mama to the motherland/ I could do it, maybe one day / When you figure out you're gonna need someone/ When you figure out it's all right here in the city/ And you don't run from where we come from…

These lyrics invoke a faceless girl whose tokenization fits an overall trend of over-representation of East African women as emblems of acceptable Black beauty.[9] As Farah writes, this over-representation indicates “a system that marginalizes and limits other forms of aesthetic blackness… [r]einscribing white beauty through black beauty” (ibid). This rap practice of “referenc[ing] East African Girls like [they’re] the 49th Law of Power, predictably denigrating black women who lack acceptable blackness in the same tired ways” is also found in songs such as: Nas’ “The Set Up” and “Summer,” Wale's “No One Be Like You” and “Hold Yuh Remix,” Tinie Tempeh's remix of Drake's “The Motto,” Common's “Celebrate,” and Drake's “Where To Now” (ibid).


A freestyle over the song's instrumental was recorded and released by American rappers Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip on December 21, 2012, where the two pay homage to Janet Jackson.[10]

Commercial performance[edit]

The song debuted at #76 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the album's first week on sale.[11] It has peaked at number 26 as of March 7, 2013.[12] It also charted at #8 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and at #6 on Hot Rap Songs. On May 9, 2013, the song was certified Gold by the RIAA.



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[21] 2× Platinum 2,000,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United States October 22, 2012[22] Rhythmic radio
April 16, 2013[23] Mainstream radio


  1. ^ "Scoop Deville Recalls Linking With Kendrick Lamar To Produce "Poetic Justice"". HipHop DX. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Scoop DeVille Says 50 Cent Wanted Kendrick Lamar's "Poetic Justice"". HipHop DX. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  3. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Performs On Saturday Night Live (Video)". 2DopeBoyz. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Wants Janet Jackson To Appear In "Poetic Justice" Video". HipHop DX. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  5. ^ Battan, Carrie (22 February 2013). "Watch: Kendrick Lamar and Drake Star in a Story of Love and Murder in the Video for "Poetic Justice"". PitchforkMedia. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  6. ^ "Video: Kendrick Lamar f/ Drake – 'Poetic Justice'". Rap-Up. February 22, 2013. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  7. ^ Carroll, Jim (November 2, 2012). "Kendrick Lamar". The Irish Times. Dublin. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  8. ^ "Kendrick Lamar And Drake Link Up On ‘Poetic Justice’". Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  9. ^ a b Farah, Safy-Hallan (3 April 2013). "Poetic Justice: Drake and East African Girls". The Feminist Wire.
  10. ^ "New Music: Busta Rhymes f/ Q-Tip – 'Poetic Justice (Remix)'". Rap Up. December 21, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  11. ^ "Hot 100 Songs & New Music: 71 - 80 Songs". Billboard Music Charts. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  12. ^ Grein, Paul. "Week Ending March 3, 2013. Songs: Is The Right Song #1?". Retrieved 203-03-07. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  13. ^ "Ultratop.be – Kendrick Lamar – Poetic Justice" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  14. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  15. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  16. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Hot Rap Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  17. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Chart History (Rhythmic)". Billboard. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  18. ^ "2013 Year End Charts — R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  19. ^ "2013 Year End Charts — Rap Songs". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  20. ^ "Rhythmic Songs – Year-End 2013". Billboard. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  21. ^ "American single certifications – Kendrick Lamar – Poetic Justice". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 13, 2018. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  22. ^ "Top 40/Rhythmic-Crossover". All Access Music Group. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  23. ^ "CHR – Available for Airplay Archive". FMQB. Retrieved October 5, 2013.