Written by: The Melanated Man
I didn’t see Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy’s performance. By many accounts the performance was groundbreaking and earth-shaking. I haven’t had a chance to listen to his latest album To Pimp a Butterfly, and again by all accounts it was groundbreaking and earth-shaking. His debut album (not his first) Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City was mesmerizing, so I can only imagine how amazing this album with a CONCIOUS tone would be. Kendrick’s rise through the ranks from rags-to-riches story closely resembles the trajectory of the likes of 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Eminem, and numerous others. A trajectory towards greatness. At this point though, a question of what type of greatness is Kendrick shooting for should be asked.
The mainstream music platform is hardly the setting where real, transformative change takes place for the black (melanated) population that is considered the minority voice in not only the USA but also the entire planet. A population that has been suffering from long-term economic turmoil, rampant inequality and racism, and overlooked spiritual, mental and emotional abuse. If anything the mainstream music platform has only worsened the problem.
Kendrick resembles a young 2Pac in his young career, where the latter spoke against the atrocities his people were facing on a daily basis. Unfortunately he became tainted by the THUG LIFE mantra propagated by his handlers and his label Death Row. Anyone with passing knowledge of 2Pac’s last days regarding his music had to know that he was dealing with a conundrum on whether he should stay true to his original message of true liberation for his people or poison his fans with the message of overconsumption and overall reckless living. Maybe it had something to do with his untimely death (assassination?)
For those who are unfamiliar with the situation, we do not own the music industry. The industry is ran by white, mostly Jewish executives who have no interest in black (melanated) liberation. Our liberation brings about their demise. Any type of music that promotes and encourages that message will at best co-opted to fit capitalistic ideals or worse, extinguished. So again I ask, where do you go from here, Kendrick Lamar?
If his motives are pure and sincere regarding the liberation of his people he would be best served to graduate from the mainstream music platform (maybe to the conscious rap genre) and serve his community at the grassroots level, sort of like a riches-to-rags situation. He places the needs of his people above his own desires, becomes an example to not only other current music artists, but to his peer group as a whole. Collectivism wins over individualism, a close ally to capitalism. Or…
He can stay in the mainstream music platform, where more than likely he will have to compromise not only his music artistry but himself as a whole to survive , thus exposing himself as a fraud. A foe against his own people. They will corrupt his music into the same acidic message that has enslaved our minds for decades. He will be no different than Jay-Z, Kanye West, etc. that are currently atop the Billboard charts. Artists who sold us out.
Will he take the road less traveled? Will he prove me wrong? I hope so sincerely. I like the guy and what he brings to the table. But there were others like him who came before him as well.
The Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City album was a truly entertaining masterpiece. Judging by his latest album he may be venturing into social activism. Let’s hope it’s not an anomaly.