As well as previously revealed guests like Snoop Dogg, Bilal and Anna Wise, the album features Pharrell doing backing vocals on ‘Alright’, Dr Dre contributing a voicemail to ‘Wesley’s Theory’ and Pete Rock adding vocals and scratching to ‘Complexion’.
There are surprisingly few samples on the album, but ‘Hood Politics’ makes use of ‘All For Myself’ by Sufjan Stevens while ‘Momma’ contains bits of ‘Wishful Thinkin’ by Sly & The Family Stone. Bassist Thundercat and pianist Robert Glasper appear all over the album, while Brainfeeder signee Kamasi Washington takes care of the string arrangments, showing the strength of the jazz influence running throughout. ‘Music Man’ also features parts from journalist Mats Nileskar’s 1994 interview with Tupac Shakur.
The liner notes also include a message in Braille which reads, weirdly, “A Kendrick by letter blank Lamar”. Or is that “A blank letter by Kendrick Lamar”?