Am I worth it?
Did I put enough work in?
Kendrick explains that this is the way he raps because of his experiences. He’s saying that those listening are the reason why he’s doing what he does. By the time he’s “gone” (be it death or retirement from the rap game), he wonders if everyone will be “singing” (talking about his significance in the rap game) by then? Was he worth it? Did he put enough work to be recognized?
Other methodologies for the explanation include:
Kendrick is asking someone, possibly God, if this song was enough to pay off the sins he’s committed that he talked about earlier in the verse.
He might be realizing that you cannot actually pay off debts (you can’t change the past), but you can change other people’s present moments (if they come to their own insightful revealations) which could, in effect, change their pasts when they get to the future.
In the first verse you have someone that wants their story to be told by Kendrick. In the second verse you have someone that’s upset with Kendrick for telling their sister’s story on Section.80 and doesn’t want him to talk about them anymore. So when he asks whether or not if he’s worth it, he’s asking if he’s worth being wrote about in a song as well. Which basically means that him rapping about them isn’t him trying to be disrespectful. In fact it’s the complete opposite because he’s questioning whether or not if he’s worthy of the same honor. Kendrick must hold writing a song about someone very high, because he hopes that one day someone will do the same to him and tell his story.
This is also a play on the gang life and the process of moving up in the ranks. When you put in enough work and show you’re worth being promoted, you are.
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