Listen: Kendrick Lamar Confronts Black Self-Hatred & Hypocrisy With “Blacker The Berry”
Kendrick Lamar continues to deliver the thought-provoking artistry we expect from one of hip-hop’s most prolific emcees with his latest track, “Blacker The Berry.”
The scathing critique hones in on some generational intra-racial issues that are generally only discussed openly within black communities, e.g. embracing of stereotypes, self-hatred, gang violence, tribal violence, sell-outs, accepting defeat, etc.
“I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015,” he launches each verse before delving deep into several problematic mindsets that contradict growth, progress and unity. Verse 3 serves as the most unsettling:
“You hate my people, I can tell because it’s threats when I see you
I can tell because your ways deceitful
Know I can tell because you’re in love with the Desert Eagle
Thinkin’ maliciously, he get a chain then you gone bleed him
It’s funny how Zulu and Xhosa might go to war
Two tribal armies that want to build and destroy
Remind me of these Compton Crip gangs that live next door
Beefin’ with Piru’s, only death settle the score
So don’t matter how much I say I like to preach with the Panthers
Or tell Georgia State “Marcus Garvey got all the answers”
Or try to celebrate February like it’s my B-Day
Or eat watermelon, chicken, and Kool-Aid on weekdays
Or jump high enough to get Michael Jordan endorsements
Or watch BET ’cause urban support is important
So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?
When gang banging make me kill a nigga blacker than me?
It’s glorious. It’s packed with the “aggression” many fans said “i” lacked. It’s unabashed self-reflection. It’s Pro-black. It’s a stunning example of hip-hop at it’s best.
It’s also in line with Kendrick’s recent Billboard comments which were infused with the idea that respectability can defeat oppression, while also failing to identify the root of these contradictory mentalities: white supremacy. We are still left to wonder what level of perfection any oppressed group must achieve before the dominant group has to respect their humanity?
The single’s artwork features Giordano Cipriani‘s photo of a Surma woman breastfeeding twins in the Valley of the Omo of Ethiopia.