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Kendrick Lamar’s new song “The Blacker The Berry” is a lyrical masterpiece. Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon annotated the lyrics on Genius. Just last week, Rick Rubin contributed his own annotations to the literature encyclopedia formerly known as Rap Genius. Here’s an excerpt from Chabon’s take on Lamar’s controversial track below. Don’t forget to read the full version here.
In this final couplet, Kendrick Lamar employs a rhetorical move akin toand in its way even more devastating thanCommons move in the last line of I Used to Love H.E.R.: snapping an entire lyric into place with a surprise revelation of something hitherto left unspoken. In H.E.R., Common reveals the identity of the songs herhip hop itselfforcing the listener to re-evaluate the entire meaning and intent of the song. Here, Kendrick Lamar reveals the nature of the enigmatic hypocrisy that the speaker has previously confessed to three times in the song without elaborating: that he grieved over the murder of Trayvon Martin when he himself has been responsible for the death of a young black man. Commons her is not a woman but hip hop itself; Lamars I is not (or not only) Kendrick Lamar but his community as a whole.
Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker The Berry” is earning the rapper Tupac comparisons. Award winning author Michael Chabon annotated the lyrics on Genius.