Rap? Hip-hop? Oh no, not my kind of music; it’s all just drugs, violence and sex isn’t it?’
Rarely do contemporary individuals choose to delve into the realm of rap hoping to be met with socially relevant lyrics crafted as poetic emotions. This is exactly what Lamar has continued to distribute since his career took off with ‘Overly Dedicated’. Displaying his verbal virtuosity with his latest album ‘DAMN.’, the Compton rapper has undoubtedly created an album that reaffirms his title as ‘King Kunta’.
‘Kungfu Kenny’ has been redefining music in the 21st century with his theatrical albums that deal with themes such as institutionalized racism, uninformed media functionality, the color line, police brutality and Trump’s administration. His politically charged tracks constantly evolve due to his cultural roots and steady journey to the top of the industry.
Lamar has repeatedly utilized his experiences and accountable nature to raise awareness in order to fight burning societal conflicts; bringing us to wonder-
What kind of responsibility do artists have to their listeners?
Contemporary music in America currently has set out to spur the society into motion. With a new wave of lyricism emerging within the musical ecosystem, artists like Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, and Lady Gaga have utilized their image to start a resistance.
Black artists primarily have redefined the genre of protest music by asserting their black identity within white America. Evidently, Lamar’s raw African American narrative facilitates the culture of hip-hop resistance in the 21st century.
Kendrick’s ‘Alright’ was widely used as an unofficial protest anthem during the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the American nation. Utilizing confrontational lyrics, he draws attention to black on black crime, governmental hypocrisy, class dynamics and oppression through tracks like ‘The blacker the berry’ and ‘i’.
Many American musicians have always treated music as a catalyst for movements of change. Music being the highest forms of human expression is one of the greatest tools for political and cultural evolution since time immemorial.
Conscious hip-hop is emerging as a mode of resistance in America under Trump’s administration. It is monumentally imperative for the current generation to rise up to the injustice meted out to them and this is where music serves as the ultimate platform.
‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ is one of the few hip-hop albums that have been archived alongside classics like Nas’ Illmatic and A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘The Low End Theory’ in the Harvard Library. Its controversially raw album cover was just the understated representation of what Lamar had in store for the musical ecosystem and audience.
In the current epoch, artists like Kendrick Lamar prove to be a necessity as they rightfully challenge relevant social issues. Where else would you find a graceful amalgamation of poetic rhetoric and masterful beats that churn a society’s cognitive wheels?