N.E.R.D have dropped “Don’t Don’t Do It!,” a new song from their forthcoming album “No One Ever Really Dies,” which lands on Friday. The track stars Kendrick Lamar (Variety‘s Artist Hitmaker of the Year, read our interview with him here) and Frank Ocean, the latter of whom wrote the intro.
“He is the arch of no compromise, no concession, and very colorful with it,” N.E.R.D frontman Pharrell Williams told Beats 1’s Zane Lowe. “And that’s what, I feel like, that’s what is very interesting about his journey. Because if you understand him then, you know anything that he’s ever done is just what he’s really, really, really felt.” (Hear an excerpt from the song below.)
Lamar appears on another song from the album, “Kites,” which also features M.I.A. Other guests on the album include Rihanna, Future, André 3000 (on the mind-blowing “Rollinem 7s,” which leaked early), Gucci Mane, Wale, and Ed Sheeran.
Pharrell also told Lowe that “Don’t Don’t Do It!” was inspired by the 2016 police shooting of Keith Scott.
“His wife is standing trying to get him, the authorities tell her to stand back,” Pharrell said, recalling seeing the footage of the police killing Scott. “She’s filming the entire thing on her camera phone. She is saying ‘Don’t do it. Don’t don’t do it. Don’t do it, Keith. Don’t, don’t do it.’ She’s telling the authorities that her husband has a TBI, that’s a Traumatic Brain Injury. They’re telling him to put his hands up or whatever and she knows, you can tell in her voice that she see what’s going to happen. She’s saying ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it Keith. Don’t, don’t do it.’ And, of course, you know the way that turned out. He was killed.
“The thing that was ironic for me is when she’s saying to her husband, don’t do it, don’t don’t do it,” he continued. “I’m thinking to myself, all of these unarmed African American motorists when you do what the authorities ask you to do I wonder before you die if your conscience says that to you or asks you or suggests to you ‘don’t do it, don’t do it.’ When they tell you to pull over, I wonder if Philando Castile, in his mind, was thinking ‘don’t pull over.’ Any of them, I just wonder if they heard a voice in their mind after they were instructed to do something, if they heard a voice saying don’t do it. Don’t don’t do it. And that’s where the song came from. And so you know who better to enlist to help us communicate that feeling and that notion was Kendrick Lamar, and that’s how ‘Don’t Don’t Do It’ came about.