Everybody gon' respect the shooter
But the one in front of the gun lives forever
The shooter may get the temporary attention from committing the murder, but the victim is remembered and honored forever. Although the circumstances were different, Kendrick’s friend Dave died in a shootout and is living forever through this album.
This is an analogy to suggest that a controlling regime (The shooter) gets respect (Obedience), but “the one in front of the gun” (The people) will always exist, no matter what threats are given.
Kendrick’s lines are similar to the famed last words of civil rights activist Huey Newton:
The person who chooses the street life will get respect for shooting someone but the one who gets shot goes to heaven and lives forever. This could just be a statement of martyrdom in general given the heavily Christian themes of the album. There are countless examples throughout history of the inverse Jay-Z, respecting the one who got shot over the shooter.
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