Kendrick Lamar is back, between social criticism and intimate part

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New York (AFP) – After five years of waiting, Californian rapper Kendrick Lamar, who has become one of the soundtracks of the Black Lives Matter movement, delivered a new album on Friday where social criticism still dominates, with an intimate side.

The child of Compton, a disadvantaged suburb of Los Angeles, is today, at 34, one of the greatest voices of American rap, the only hip hop artist to have been crowned with a Pulitzer Prize, for DAMN, his last opus released in 2017.

“(He) tells his own struggles through his music, but also documents and tells the story of what is happening in black America, in Compton or throughout the black diaspora”, estimates, in an interview with the AFP, Lakeyta Bonnette-Bailey, specialist in the relationship between rap and political and social issues, and professor at Georgia State University.

“He’s a real lyricist (…) He always has something deep to say”, she adds, praising his ability to use “metaphors” and “to hit certain rhythms with the verses”.

After his Pulitzer Prize, Kendrick Lamar contributed to the soundtrack of the Marvel Studios film, “Black Panther”, including “All The Stars”, a duet with SZA nominated for the Grammy Awards and the Oscars. He has also collaborated with other artists, such as his cousin Baby Keem.

“Peace”

His fifth studio album, “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers,” which landed overnight on streaming platforms, is silencing those who feared an early solo retirement. And promises to dominate the rankings, before an American then world tour starting this summer.

The first title, “United in Grief” (“United in pain”), opens with a choir singing “I hope you find some peace of mind in this lifetime” (“I hope that you will find a little inner peace in your life”).

Throughout the album, Lamar meditates on inner demons, pent up emotions, family struggles, the pitfalls of fame.

The title “We Cry Together”, which features actress Taylour Paige, depicts a couple who argue, but the personal attacks turn into a more collective rage, especially on the lack of consideration for women in society.

Lamar also criticizes the treatment of transgender people in “Auntie Diaries”.

Then, in the raw, soulful track “Mother I Sober,” featuring Portishead singer Beth Gibbons, he lays bare stories of childhood trauma, infidelity, and sexual abuse. This title ends with the voice of a woman, proud that her child has “broken a generational curse”.

Before the same choir that started the album closes the song: “I bare my soul and now we’re free” (“I bare my soul and now we’re free”).

The rapper appears on the album cover with a crown of thorns on his head, holding a young child, while a woman who appears to be his partner Whitney Alford is in the background, holding an infant. What to speculate on the birth of his second child, according to some media.

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Kendrick Lamar is back, between social criticism and intimate part