After the release of his first single, “i” , Kendrick Lamar may have put off a few of his fans looking for a continuation of the sound from his critically acclaimed, good kid, m.A.A.d City album, released in late 2012.
In all honesty, I wasn’t 100% sold on the new sound either, while accepting that he would have to make some changes to avoid being stagnant or stale, I was a little surprised by the poppy, at times, soulful song with Kendrick singing more times than he actually raps. It was a definite change that many probably didn’t expect to see, but with the release of his newest single, The Blacker the Berry, it shows that maybe it was a little soon to start writing off his new album.
Kendrick has for a while now been seen as one of the better lyricists in rap at the moment. It was what truly shone in GKMC; in terms of timely subject matter, passionate delivery and flow, very few have kept as much of a high consistency as him.
Over a loud and monstrous boom-bap beat by producer, Boi-1da, Kendrick delivers one of the most confrontational and perhaps, uncomfortable raps in terms of subject matter. He aggressively and passionately growls into the microphone his thoughts or maybe, the thoughts of many, on the bubbling violence in the African-American community; both internally and externally.
It kind of feels like, from the perspective from the narrator, that he is unable to see the gang violence clearly due to the systemic violence and racism perpetrated against him. He says that he was hypocritical that he cried when Trayvon Martin died, but is often forced to shoot African-Americans on the street in order to further fuel the corrupting gang turf wars that are fought every day. There is a clear disparity in terms of inter-race relations and the violence occurring, but he suggests that possibly due to the crushing losses suffered by many, he lives up to negative stereotypes in spite of racism.
Overall, his new single is as hard-hitting as it could get; both lyrically and sonically. From what I can gather, he seems to be advocating for an end to this violence perpetrated on both sides and that is something many can agree with. After winning the Grammy for “i” a couple of nights ago, he really has turned 180 degrees and proved that there is plenty more from him to be heard in the future.