Kendrick Lamar – “LOYALTY.” ft. Rihanna (Singles Going Steady)

Standing on a funky foundation, the beats are intoxicating and the chemistry between Lamar and his co-star, Rihanna, take this to another level.

Chris Ingalls: Are the internet trolls right? Is this about the Illuminati? It doesn’t really matter — this dense, sample-packed track provides the perfect vehicle for a Kendrick/Rihanna collaboration and shows that neither artist is interested in slowing down or becoming boring. The mid-track harmony break, the simmering tempo, and the combination of both of these unique voices make this a winning single. [9/10]

Ian Rushbury: High budget video? Check? High profile guest vocalist? Check. Groovy sample? Check. “Meaningful” lyric? Check. Mild profanity? Check. Behind the glossy production, there is really very little here. Lamar wants to stress the importance of loyalty, it seems, but he does it in such a ham-fisted way that he may as well be writing about how nice his car is or how much spends a week on shoes. It’ll be a top five single and a YouTube sensation before you can say “remix”, but that doesn’t make it any good. [4/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Kendrick Lamar’s skills speak for themselves on low-key Rihanna collaboration “LOYALTY.” As always, his delivery is smooth, cool, and heartfelt, and each verse takes him another cut above the competition. The video is action-packed, rife with narrative drama and intense imagery — sharks circling, figures sinking into the concrete — and all in all, “LOYALTY.” is yet another strong cut off of a strong album. [9/10]

Jordan Blum: I was never really big on this song — or the album, which, as controversial as it is to say, is a step down from To Pimp a Butterfly — and that remains true. It’s a decent hip-hop track, but it feels too generic to be great (although Lamar’s delivery and tone are still on point, and the “love’s gonna get you” part is an interesting change that ties it into the themes of the whole record). Rihanna doesn’t add or take anything away aside from adding an extra tonal layer, but the video does a great job of being abstract yet alluring and open to interpretation. It also keeps with Lamar’s pattern of self-reflection and self-judgement in his art. [7/10]

Spyros Stasis: Easily one of the biggest hits in Lamar’s latest album, it is no surprise “LOYALTY” gets a single release. It is interesting to see how even the more easy listening songs of Lamar are still hard hitting and filled with purpose and energy. Standing on a funky foundation, the beats are intoxicating and the chemistry between Lamar and his co-star, Rihanna, take this to another level. [8/10]

John Garratt: Both Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna sound pretty bored doing their vocal parts. The musical interlude at 1:43 is a welcome changeup, but then it’s back to the same old as they pretend to dangle from a construction site. If these two are going to be heralded for riding at the forefront of the genre, why don’t they do something new? “It’s so hard to be humble…” Yeah, says you. [3/10]

Chris Thiessen: I’m surprised every time I revisit DAMN, and I seem to enjoy it more than the last time. This is potentially the most radio-friendly track Kendrick has ever put out, and yet still so dense as he and RiRi trade verses on the importance of unconditionally loyal friends and family. [8/10]

SCORE: 6.86