1. Poverty has its (mostly unfortunate) symptoms.
In the first verse, Kendrick describes a series of vignettes related to the narrator and his friends being poor. There’s an unfortunate health scare. He describes both unanimity and apathy of a group which chooses to rob an unsuspecting person. He dreams of a better life. The truth is that we all have to live with poverty; when economic opportunities aren’t made available in poor communities, it perpetuates an endless beat of carelessness, purposelessness and division. What’s more? It’s a cycle that robs people of their dignity.
2. Suddenly having a lot of money changes folks’ attitudes, motives and ambitions.
As an idiom, “money doesn’t grow on trees” is an obvious flash point given the title of the song. It seems to illustrate that the narrator is happy to be in a position where lucrative chances to earn fall down on him like so many leaves. But the narrator also seems keenly aware that there’s only so much space in the shade; that having money not only changes people and colors their intentions, but serves to expose folks unhidden from the scorching light. The results? For his part, Kendrick seems particularly obsessed with betrayal.
3. Material things can’t ease emotional pain … for an extended period of time.
Though Kendrick raps from his own perspective and from that of an amalgamation of male figures, his most poignant lines are deeply personal. The ‘pain’ he’s referring to in the line above references the death of his uncle by gun violence. Material possessions are only momentarily helpful to dull pain, but for many of us, drowning our sorrow by running up our credit cards is a sure fire way to get into financial trouble. But then …
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