Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Michael Chabon Annotates Kendrick Lamar's New Song

11 February 2015, 12:00 | Updated: 28 November 2018, 15:42

kendrick lamar
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

Kendrick Lamar debuted his newest effort "The Blacker The Berry" right after the Grammys and, since doing so, has been praised for the artistry demonstrated in the release. 

While many pundits and talking heads have weighed in on the lyrical content of the song, none have delved quite so deeply as Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon.

In a verified Rap Genius annotation, Chabon delves into Kdot's final lyric on the track in which he reveals the nature of his repeated line "I'm the biggest hypocrite of 2015". Chabon chooses to deconstruct the lyric: "So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?
When gang banging make me kill a n---- blacker than me?

In this final couplet, Kendrick Lamar employs a rhetorical move akin to—and in its way even more devastating than—Common’s move in the last line of “I Used to Love H.E.R.”: snapping an entire lyric into place with a surprise revelation of something hitherto left unspoken. In “H.E.R.”, Common reveals the identity of the song’s “her”—hip hop itself—forcing the listener to re-evaluate the entire meaning and intent of the song. Here, Kendrick Lamar reveals the nature of the enigmatic hypocrisy that the speaker has previously confessed to three times in the song without elaborating: that he grieved over the murder of Trayvon Martin when he himself has been responsible for the death of a young black man. Common’s “her” is not a woman but hip hop itself; Lamar’s “I” is not (or not only) Kendrick Lamar but his community as a whole. This revelation forces the listener to a deeper and broader understanding of the song’s “you”, and to consider the possibility that “hypocrisy” is, in certain situations, a much more complicated moral position than is generally allowed, and perhaps an inevitable one.

Michael Chabon

The novelist also penned lyrics for Mark Ronson's Uptown Special and is widely regarded for his expertise in the use of metaphor in language.