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Yes, Kendrick Lamar Is Trying to Make ‘Top o’ the Morning’ a Thing

Earlier this week, when a snippet of what appeared to be a new Kendrick Lamar verse leaked, reactions were swift and befuddled. “Hold on, let’s get this shit, let’s get this shit,” the man who has a very credible case to be the greatest lyricist of his generation began. “Top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning.”

Was this some kind of joke? A fake leak constructed by a comedian riffing on the bizarre, but admittedly hilarious, idea of the Pulitzer-winning genius who made DAMN. getting into leprechaun slang? Could it be a looped meme based on a real unreleased verse? Or, as one user put it in a tweet that rapidly racked up tens of thousands of likes, “What the HELL is Kendrick Lamar doing bruh”?

Savvy listeners deduced that the snippet likely had something to do with The Melodic Blue, the new album from Kendrick’s younger cousin Baby Keem. This impression was strengthened when Keem himself tweeted a single “top of the morning” on September 9th.

Sure enough, when the album arrived the following day, there it was, on a very good song called “Range Brothers”: Around the four-minute mark, after a series of tag-teamed verses from the two cousins, there’s a dramatic pause followed by Kendrick coming in hot with seven repetitions of the phrase. “Top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning, top o’ the morning….”

At the end of the track, Kendrick says “top o’ the morning!” a few more times for good measure.

Why, exactly, the most widely lauded rapper of the past decade is trying to popularize this cheerful old-timey greeting (which may not be a legitimate Irish saying at all) remains an open question, although that hasn’t stopped some listeners from trying to put together grand unified theories on this. Maybe he just thinks it sounds cool? Either way, we wish a hearty top o’ the morning to everyone enjoying Baby Keem’s album.

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