Kendrick Lamar’s hit single “Swimming Pools (Drank)” from his second studio album good kid, m.A.A.d. city toes the line between feeding his fans hunger for raucous consumption and maintaining his own artistry and sense of self.
The chorus of the song,
“Why you babysittin’ only 2 or 3 shots?
I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch
First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it
Pool full of liquor, then you dive in it
I wave a few bottles, then I watch em all flock
All the girls wanna play Baywatch
I got a swimming pool full of liquor and they dive in it
Pool full of liquor I’ma dive in it”
Satirizes his age group’s obsession with binge drinking and fitting into an alcohol culture by hyperbolizing their obsession with drinking copious amounts of alcohol and diving into “swimming pools full of liquor”. By pointing out and subtly making fun of the peer pressure among young adults to drink to excess when near alcohol, Kendrick can spread his support for moderation to his gigantic fanbase.
Kendrick’s use of a swimming pool extended metaphor allows him to explain the duality of alcohol to his fans. Kendrick knows that, just like swimming pools, a person can have a lot of fun while drinking. However, there’s an ever-present risk of overextending yourself and drowning.
In the first verse of the song, Kendrick rhymes
“That was my problem
I was in the dark room
Loud tunes, looking to make a vow soon”
Kendrick places himself alone in a metaphorical dark room to symbolize how him not drinking separates him from everyone else at whatever social event he’s attending. His only connection to everyone else is his through the music that has made him so successful.
He also says that he’s looking to make a vow soon, but never goes on to explain what the vow actually is. I think it’s to stop drinking. The whole song’s purpose is to reveal the dangers of alcohol, so his own personal battle with it makes sense in context.