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Tuesday, April 24 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
A Literary Examination Of The Molding Of Identity And Community Responsibility In Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly

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Kendrick Lamar’s hip-hop album, To Pimp a Butterfly, works as a continuation of black poetic literary traditions and its uses to document the Black American experience. Lamar’s documentation of Black experience comes in the form of hip-hop music, a tool used to communicate black condition, frustration, and cultural power since the 1970s. For my thesis, I will explore how Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly conveys emotion and experience to the audience and his fusion of poetry and performance aspects of hip-hop. Lamar explicates his own personal narrative in To Pimp a Butterfly as he deals with battles in identity, depression, and a sometimes hopeless search to resolve the issues that plague not only himself, but the community he speaks for. Furthermore, I will also examine the importance of thematic principles like survivor’s guilt and redemption, diaspora, and racial disparity in To Pimp a Butterfly and how they are based in the regionalism of Lamar’s hometown of Compton, California. As well as, how these themes expand across the album, growing deeper as Lamar’s personal relationship with them becomes more complex and harder to resolve. To Pimp a Butterfly works as not only a hip-hop piece but utilizes the most basic makeup of the genre, poetry, to convey a continual process of self discovery that is added upon throughout every track. This is done through epiphanic moments that mark the growing understanding of Lamar’s own identity and his own lack of agency’s connection to the impoverished, chaotic state that his home community of Compton lives in.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm PDT
232 Karpen Hall

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