Kendrick Lamar won 2 Grammys for his 2014 commercially underwhelming single ‘i’. Critically, the song had mixed reviews too and many though K.Dot was going soft (the dreads and industry absence since ‘Control’ didn’t help his case either).
Yesterday, Kendrick quietly released a new song titled ‘The Blacker the Berry’ which will make you reconsider your opinion.
The song is heavily jarring and is a commentary on black consciousness as opposed to the lyrical flexing Kendrick has been terrorising his peers with in the past year. In the opening verse he raps: I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015/ Once I finish this, witnesses will convey just what I mean/ Been feeling this way since I was 16, came to my senses/ You never liked us anyway, fuck your friendship, I meant it/ I’m African-American, I’m African/ I’m black as the moon, heritage of a small village/ Pardon my residence/ Came from the bottom of mankind/ My hair is nappy, my dick is big, my nose is round and wide/ You hate me don’t you?/ You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture/ You’re fuckin’ evil I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey/
In the remaining verses Kendrick sticks to his guns, painting a parody of what he perceives the world to see blackness as. He ends the song with a verse that is likely a response to the outcry from the public and other artists regarding a comment he made earlier this year when asked about the surge of police brutality against black Americans to which he responded:
‘”I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s f—ked up. What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.”
What’s especially of interest to us is that Kendrick dropped a South African reference in this amazingly powerful verse:
It’s funny how Zulu and Xhosa might go to war/ Two tribal armies that want to build and destroy/ Remind me of these Compton Crip gangs that live next door/ Beefin’ with Piru’s, only death settle the score/ So don’t matter how much I say I like to preach with the Panthers/ Or tell Georgia State “Marcus Garvey got all the answers”/ Or try to celebrate February like it’s my B-Day/ Or eat watermelon, chicken, and Kool-Aid on weekdays/ Or jump high enough to get Michael Jordan endorsements/ Or watch BET cause urban support is important/ So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?/ When gang banging make me kill a nigga blacker than me?/ Hypocrite!