Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 Grammys Performance: 'The Blacker The Berry' & 'Alright' | Video Billboard – Billboard

The song ” The Blacker the Berry” by Kendrick Lamar was released in 2015 and featured on his album “To Pimp a Butterfly.”This song was released during a time when immense racial inequality and police brutality were at the spearhead of social consciousness within America. Several events and movements were happening leading up to the release of this song such as the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2013 and protests against several unjust killings of African Americans. This would ultimately lead to national discourse on race and discrimination. Furthermore, this song serves as a powerful commentary on these issues within the context of the hip-hop genre, which at times, can be known for its capacity to address political concerns directly.

“The Blacker the Berry” begins with a poignant critique of racial identity and self-hatred within the Black community. In the first verse at 0:55 Lamar exclaims “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015,” alluding to the notion that internalized racism can exist within individuals who belong to marginalized communities. This acknowledgment peels back the reality of how complex racial identity truly is. Societal perceptions and prejudices often stem from one’s skin color, Lamar invites listeners to confront their personal biases and to recognize that confronting self-hatred is an important step to breaking apart systemic racism. 

Kendrick Lamar also elucidates his frustration regarding injustices that the Black community is faced with. He is blunt and assertive when addressing racial profiling, police brutality, and the historical legacy of slavery, the crack epidemic, and discrimination. He exclaims ” You sabotage my community, making a killing” alluding to how the black community has been exploited in various ways for generations. Lamar’s raw emotion highlights the urgency of addressing the harsh reality of these problems. 

Furthermore, Lamar is keen on employing historical context within the song. Frequently referring to slavery stating “How you no see the whip, left scars ‘pon me back”, these references serve as a sharp reminder of the impact of racism throughout American History. Exploring and connecting these past injustices to present-day struggles confronts this history directly and suggests that it is not a distant memory but rather a living force that continues to affect and shape the experiences of the Black community.

In addition to speaking on the Black community as a whole, Lamar speaks on his flaws and contradictions. He confronts the hypocrisy of condemning racism while continuing to partake in negative stereotypes and holding resentment towards other black people. His powerful statement of exclaiming ” So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street …When gang-banging make me kill a nigga blacker than me? Hypocrite!” adds immense depth to his critique, as it emphasizes the need for personal growth and accountability in this fight against racism and violence.

“The Blacker the Berry ” is not just a song that expresses anger and frustration; it’s a song that is a call for action. Lamar challenges listeners to confront and address systemic racism, discrimination, and prejudices not only in himself but also within society. This song is a thought-provoking journey through race, self-identity, and injustice in America. It may be uncomfortable to listen to these truths regarding racial inequality and discrimination but it is important to consider listeners’ roles in perpetuating or changing these oppressive systems. Kendrick Lamar uses his platform to highlight the pressing issues of before his time as well as his current ones.