With all the conversations about last night’s Grammy’s and Kanye West’s antics, Kendrick Lamar drops a new song out of nowhere. Thanks to Taraji P. Henson we get some new music from Kendrick to start off this new week. “The Blacker The Berry” is produced by Boi-1da, with additional production by Terrace Martin. Kendrick definitely sounds more emphatic on here in comparison to the self-love and folksy feel of his earlier single “I”.
“The Blacker The Berry” sounds a lot closer to what I think most expected from Lamar after Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Lamar tackles hatred and racism that comes with being African-American, as well as the exploitation of black culture over an uptempo production. But he also declares himself; “the biggest hypocrite in 2015”. The chorus definitely has that Yeezus feel to it from “I’m in It “, with an artist singing in patois like Beenie man.
Everything Kendrick is saying in the song speaks to racial discourse in America, and it’s all valid, but I was also left wondering what’s the end game here? Because if it’s just spewing what’s already evident to most in regards to race, then it’s just mildly entertaining. And we have Dead Prez or old Ice Cube songs that achieve that goal with similar themes.
In the third verse Kendrick discusses gang violence in the urban community using the bloods and clips, reference, as well as the Xhosa and Zulu reference; “Beefin’ with Piru’s, only death settle the score“. Instead of focusing on a known system of oppression, he touches on the reality that some black people are also still at war with one another. There’s a feeling of respectability politics in play here because of the last two lines in the song, and possibly equating black on black violence with violence perpetrated by the system, and that’s problematic.
Kendrick Lamar in the second verse:
“I’m the biggest hypocrite in 2015 / Once I finish this, witnesses will convey just what I mean / I mean it’s evident I’m irrelevant to society /That’s what you’re telling me, penitentiary would only hire me / Curse me till I’m dead / Church me with your fake prophesying that I’mma be another slave in my head / Institutionalize manipulation in lies / Reciprocation of freedom only live in your eyes”
You can stream Kendrick Lamar ‘s “The Blacker The Berry” below: