Released on March 15, 2015, Kendrick Lamar’s third studio album To Pimp A Butterfly has elevated the artist from beloved “good kid” to poetic musician with a prominent voice within American society. Lamar enjoys pushing the boundaries of what can be said over rap instrumentals, and his latest project may turn out to be his magnum opus. He can even add “Pissing Off Fox News” to his repertoire now – which, as far as we’re concerned is a very admirable thing – they consider him a threat to societal opinion and the powers that be. There is something certain, definite about Kendrick Lamar…he’s “woke” and he is unapologetically using his position within popular culture to express his perspective on the world that surrounds him. It doesn’t hurt that he has fantastical music videos and an outlandishly talented video production team to illustrate the double entendres and funky spoken word poetry that he straps his singles with lyrically.
June 30 Lamar released a video – er, mini-documentary – for the number 6 track on TPAB, “Alright” which has already received over 2 million views+, as well as some attention from Fox News’ poster boy, Geraldo Rivera. Lamar performed the song at the #BETAwards2015, a performance fully outfitted with damaged cop cars and flashing red, white, and blue lights. Needless to say, right wingers viewed it as a national threat of the highest degree, criticizing him for promoting violence against police in urban environments and furthering the race war. Funny, because they are the ones avidly stating that there is no such race war, and the tensions between members of society are just figments of our wildest imagination.
Kendrick Lamar’s legendary and controversial BET Awards 2015 performance on June 28:
Fox News and Geraldo Rivera’s response to the performance and song:
Rightfully so, violence of any kind on television should be met with some sort of maturity and discretion…but there is one caveat: music has always transcended this notion. Music has been the one reliable, true, and uncensored way for the musician and all that join and listen to collectively express what is felt. Especially when that music is speaking about issues current, widely disputed, and discussed by all walks of life across the nation. Police brutality, urban violence, racial discrimination…definitely up for grabs for artists of any kind. Thankfully, Kendrick Lamar used his opportunity ambitiously.
The images in “Alright” are so jarring and poetic, the correlation between the single and what is going on today within the country are impossible to ignore. That is, unless you’re Fox News. Then you do what you’re best at: find the single most controversial lyric or action and ride it to its death to the depths of blatant ignorance. Rather than address why the themes in the song exist, they chose to focus their energy on making Kendrick Lamar THE quintessential Angry Black Male With Dangerous Views And Influence Over The Youth. The poor souls that are Fox News viewers eat this shit up, and go about their day with only that viewpoint…further perpetuating the divide between those that “stay woke” and those that refuse to even open their eyes in the first place.
Ultimately, Kendrick Lamar’s entire To Pimp A Butterfly is a masterpiece of social commentary…undoubtedly it will inspire discussion, rage, and hopefully some sort of social progress. Artists have the free reign to express anything under the sun, so if one is choosing to write about THIS, don’t you think that means it’s because something needs to be said? People don’t spend months, long hours, passion, mental energy, and personal safety on something unless they believe it simply must be shared with the public. We aren’t saying Kendrick Lamar’s new album and the track “Alright” is the anthem for social injustices, but there is definitely weight in saying it can be referenced when broadly discussing the issues facing the United States today. To watch the video in its entirety, scroll down (and enjoy on HD, too).