Complexion (Don’t Mean A Thing) How is blackness Signified and discussed in Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly?
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This thesis discusses the way blackness is Signfied and discussed on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. The album’s narrative structure is discussed by using the concept of the encyclopedic novel, and how this structure provides a detailed understanding of black America and the ghetto. The presence of blackness in Lamar’s lyricism is analyzed by using W. E. B. Du Bois’ theory of double-consciousness, which manifests itself in self-reflection and condemnation of the ostensibly unsurmountable racism in American society. Furthermore, the thesis discusses in what way Lamar both lyrically and musically engages in the African-American tradition of Signifyin(g), a term demarcated by Henry Louis Gates Jr.. A musical analysis is added, inspired by Adam Krims’ musical poetic. This analysis focusses on the musical choices Lamar makes, showing his awareness of the black cultural connotation of his sampling and live instrumentation. While most articles on hip-hop focus solely on its lyricism, this thesis posits that scholars should also pay attention to artists’ intentions when looking at hip-hop. The article concludes that Lamar Signifies his blackness in order to present himself as a diplomat and a preaching figure for the emancipation of the African-American.