Here's How Prince Almost Appeared on Kendrick Lamar's 'Complexion (A Zulu Love)'

Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Prince speaks onstage during The 57th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Feb. 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif.  

For almost a year, we’ve known that Prince logged a studio session with Kendrick Lamar while the latter crafted his 2015 masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly. Now we know what song nearly got a dose of the legendary artist.

The official Grammys website dropped a Butterfly oral history yesterday (Feb. 8), which revealed Lamar planned for Prince to sing the vocal hook on "Complexion (A Zulu Love).”

“He said he wanted to talk about the beauty of black people,” fellow collaborator Rapsody said. “I told him to say no more. What tripped me out is Kendrick originally said that he didn't want to do a verse on there. He wanted me to do two verses and Prince to do the hook.”

Lamar chimed in, confirming that Prince heard the record, liked it and talked about hopping on it. But it just wasn’t meant to be.

“We got to a point where we were just talking in the studio and the more time that passed we realized we weren't recording anything,” Kendrick said. “We just ran out of time, it's as simple as that.”

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Bummer. But there’s no reason to think Prince and Kendrick won’t eventually find time to record some music together, and when they do… it’ll certainly be something. 

For an in-depth look at the musicians that did make it on to the album, check out Billboard’s oral history of the jazz collaborations on To Pimp a Butterfly


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