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U2 and Kendrick Lamar advocate for empathy on new song 'American Soul'

Los Angeles Times

U2 and Kendrick Lamar’s new collaborative single, “American Soul,” might sound a little familiar. 

Released Friday, the song is a riff and update on Lamar’s track “XXX,” which was previously released on his album “Damn” and featured U2.

But the gritty, surging revamp was substantial enough to warrant a fresh release by the Irish rockers. There’s less Lamar on this one, as he opens the tune with a short sermon: “Blessed are the bullies/ For one day they will have to stand up to themselves.../ Blessed are the liars/ For the truth can be awkward.”

This time, there are more earnest salvos about the power of rock 'n' roll — the hook is, indeed, Bono chanting, “You are rock 'n' roll.”

In the song’s long, discursive bridge, Bono pleads for connection and empathy: “Let it be community/ For refugees like you and me.../ Will you be our sanctuary?"

The song comes from U2’s forthcoming LP, “Songs of Experience,” which is due out Dec. 1. It’s not their first collaboration with Lamar -- he appeared on U2’s “Get Out of Your Own Way” -- but it does suggest that U2 is taking some chances on its follow-up to 2014’s “Songs of Innocence.”

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