Friday, March 29, 2013


How active is Kendrick in the gang banging aspect of his homies? How much does he suggest, how much does he go along with it? Does he object to what his friends do? How much does this change how we think of him?

Specifics play a big part in the aesthetic of the album. His mom says "you won't pass on to the next grade" but then takes a point to stop and go back and say, "the 11th grade.". How does that change our perception of the album? It creates a concreteness to the album. We know the kid in the 11th grade. A kid "in the next grade" isn't as real to us. His dad asks for "Dominos", not pizza. When they hop out of the car at the end of "drank", you can hear the door ajar noise in the background as K-Dot and the other kids shoot at others, and its a stark moment of contrast. It draws a direct juxtaposition of the normal door ajar sound with the abnormal gunshots. "Me an my niggas, four deep in a white toyota. quarter tank of gas, a pistol and orange soda". He creates an image in your head with that description. He nonchalantly refers to a pistol, in between the mundane "quarter tank of gas" and "orange soda". It's an image that in conjured in your head, but it neither portrays it positively or negatively. It just is. That's one of the strong points of the album: the ambiguity of it. He doesn't say he's awesome for having a pistol, nor does he say he's foolish. Its just what is happening. Lamar allows us to decide for ourselves, and without authorial guidance, that decision isn't easy to make.

What effect do the lapses in continuity affect the album? Are the skits foreshadowing, or are the songs the emotional preludes?

His parents' voices are a constant grounding effect on him. They call and he remembers that he's not just him and the homies in the world.

Good art doesn't have to be aware of the context it exists it. It is often a product of a larger socioeconomic cultural trend and a well developed piece of art can be an embodiment of certain aspects of that culture. This CD lives in a time after gangster rap. A time after NWA. It's ghosts haunt this CD, as little homages creep up here and there to remind us that a false golden city had been constructed by Edgar Wright and O'Shea Jackson. They made it up. Not that life wasn't hard, but the way of life they glorified didn't exist. But it became a cultural idol, promoted by white people to sell records that fetishized violence. Now, that violence has been internalized into the poor community, uneducated enough to tell the difference between fantasy and reality.