Sunday Night Sample - Kendrick Lamar - Duckworth

Duckworth is the fourteenth and final track on Kendrick's acclaimed 2017 album Damn. Duckworth is Kendrick’s legal surname.

The song uses storytelling to tell the connection of Lamar with his father, known as "Ducky", and his label boss, Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith. The song tells the story of Tiffith's early relationship and previous encounters with Ducky, Lamar's father, years prior to Tiffith signing Lamar to his label.

The song goes in-depth how Anthony "Top Dawg" was a gangbanger when he was young. He would frequent the Kentucky Fried Chicken where Kendrick's dad Ducky worked. It was also the same KFC that Top Dawg had stuck up a prior to him working there. He allegedly shot a manager and a customer. When Ducky found out about this, he went out of his way to make sure he was on Anthony's good side: giving him free chicken, extra biscuits, etc. When Anthony did eventually hold up the restaurant again, he and his friends made sure not to kill Ducky. If it weren't for this happening, Kendrick wouldn't be the guy he grew to be. 

Top Dawg would eventually go on to sign a 15-year-old Kendrick to his label, Top Dawg Entertainment.

Beats1 -  Kendrick Lamar: "Top himself didn’t know I was going to do it or even execute it in that fashion, to be the last song or to be anywhere. Just making it make sense. I remember playing it for him, he flipped because further than the song, when you really can hear your life in words that is so true to you and that effected your life one hundred percent through one decision, it really makes you sit back and cherish the moment. I think that’s something we all did playing that record. Like, man, look where we at. We’re recording music for the world to hear and we’re taking care of our families. We’re blessed."

The song was produced and co-written by the genius 9th Wonder. 

The song, like "Fear", another track from Damn, incorporates "backward vocals", also known as "backmasking".

Backmasking is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. Backmasking is a deliberate process, whereas a message found through phonetic reversal may be unintentional.

9th Wonder confirmed the song is a true story

The first thing I asked [Kendrick] was, is this a true story? He said yes, it’s a true story. Top Dawg has confirmed that it’s a true story. The beauty of that is, he chose to tell that story, and we’re like four albums in. Usually, people will tell that story the first time.

On the day that Damn was released, 9th Wonder released three video snippets of the “DUCKWORTH” instrumental being played on his Maschine. The posts created so much hype that the hashtag #DuckWorth trended on Twitter

The samples 9th Wonder used for this record are pretty remarkable.

SAMPLE - Ted Taylor - Be Ever Wonderful

The first track is “Be Ever Wonderful” by Ted Taylor, which is also famously sampled on Ludacris‘ “Splash Waterfalls.”  

He also samples the progressive rock track “Ostravi Trag” by September. 

As if two samples weren't enough, 9th Wonder took a third to flip Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Atari.”


9th Wonder thinks this is what makes the song so epic. “The samples came from three different countries, with three different generations, three different genres covering all parts of Kendrick’s life involving three people: him, his dad, and Top Dawg.”

NPR did an awesome job letting 9th Wonder break down the creative process behind producing "Duckworth" and if you have 5 minutes, hearing the man himself explain how his brain works is crazy.