To Pimp a Butterfly


I chose Kendrick Lamar as my artist of analysis because he has proven his ability to highlight the black experience in his music eloquently. His album good kid, m.a.a.d. City followed his journey through the Compton streets with his friends and family. The album showed how he progressed from a violent mentality, to one with scruples and focused on God. After delivering that masterpiece, Kendrick pushed his sound, by fusing jazz with contemporary hip-hop, and his lyricism in the next album To Pimp A Butterfly. I chose this album as my focal point for analysis because Lamar made the album with intention to “give back” to his community by giving the lessons he has learned through his journey as a Black upcoming artist.

In context of my project, an annotation refers to highlighting a section of the text that comments on one of the over-arching themes of institutional racism or Black self-esteem. Originally, I had aimed to unpack all the themes within the album, but my scope had to shorten based on the time I was allotted. Switching to analyzing overarching themes allowed me to keep my original project goal and remain honest to topics discussed in the album. Even though I only focused on a portion of the songs on the album, do not let my decision label the unchosen songs of less value. Every song on this album is important and discusses relevant topics for the Black community.

           Given the album focuses on maneuvering through American society as a Black man, I felt narrative evidence from contemporary black thinkers would aid my project the most because they are discussing modern issues, like Lamar. I found the thinkers that I used in this project through peer and faculty recommendations, and databases. Other evidence cited were inspired by Lamar’s points in songs, which I then took to archives to find topical pieces.

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