0:22 OPENING:  “The Blacker the Berry” fades in and fades out (Audio Only)

0:23 NARRATOR: 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.

0:44 In her article titled “Black Lives Matter! Adolescent Research Incrementally Dismantles Racism and Systems of Oppression,” Dr. Dawn Witherspoon of  Pennstate , describes the harmful effects of systemic racism and oppression on Black youth in America. Witherspoon’s research reveals the alarming and all-too-common experiences of Black youth in the United States, highlighting the urgent need for change and greater awareness of these issues stating…


“The grim reality is that anti-Black racism is ever-present and pernicious in its effects on Black lives, including adolescents. Black youth are disproportionately targets of police brutality, and policing is just one of many societal systems where racism exacts its harms”


1:19  NARRATOR:  Lamar’s song explores themes of race and discrimination both externally and internally. The song serves as a poignant commentary on these issues within the hip-hop genre, and it is filled with powerful sentiments that resonate with listeners.

1:32 tape —Plays part of the first verse:

“I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015

Once I finish this, witnesses will convey just what I mean

Been feelin’ this way since I was sixteen, came to my senses”

1:40  NARRATOR: “The Blacker the Berry” begins with a poignant critique of racial identity and self-hatred within the Black community. The exclamation of “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015,” alludes to the notion that internalized racism can exist within individuals who belong to a marginalized community . 

1:55  tape –[2:39-2:59] [clip from Lamars’s MTV News interview] “People  think just talking it’s just ,its  just  rap no these are my experiences when I say gang bang make me kill a N**** blacker than me,  these are…this is  my life.”


2:06 NARRATOR: Lamar faced criticism and controversy for the release of this song due to its bluntness. Despite its controversial nature, many people resonated with the song’s sentiments and understood what Lamar was ultimately trying to convey. Myke C-Town from “Dead End Hip Hop Podcast” expounded on the song’s themes and offered insights into interpreting the meaning behind “The Blacker the Berry.”

2:26 tape –[4:57-5:58] [clip from Dead End Hip Hop Podcast ]“ I think he’s saying is both of those kind of death come from the same type of system of the same type of mentality, which is basically white supremacy is the reason that was Eric Garner was murdered and the system is based on white supremacy  realize that the whole black and black  thing come from self-hatred, and we are doing their job killing each other so I think if you if you are so upset about the white man killing black men, you should also be upset by the white man influencing us to kill each other is the same f****** thing that’s what I think he was saying I don’t think he was simply saying hypocrites… I think he’s he’s I think is a bit deeper a thinker than something.”


2:55 NARRATOR: 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.


3:13 tape —Plays part of the verse:


“So why did I weep when 

Trayvon Martin was in the street

When gang-banging makes me kill a n*gga blacker than me?



3:31 NARRATOR: 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 n**** 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.


3:57 tape —Plays part of the verse:

“You vandalize my perception but can’t take style from me

And this is more than a confession

I mean I might press the button just so you know my discretion

I’m guardin’ my feelings, I know that you feel it

You sabotage my community, makin’ a killin’

You made me a killer, emancipation of a real n*gga

4: 13 NARRATOR: Kendrick Lamar also elucidates his frustrations 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

4:41 NARRATOR: In a study Author,  William N. Evans speaks on the lasting effects caused by the “War on Drugs” and how it has affected the Black Community Author writes…

“The violence associated with crack cocaine markets in the 1980s and 1990s has repercussions today…we estimate that the US murder rate of black males aged 15–24 was still 70 percent higher 17 years after crack markets had emerged…Our estimates imply that more guns due to crack-related violence explains approximately one-tenth of the current life expectancy gap between white and black males.”

5:14 tape —Plays part of the verse:

“I said they treat me like a slave, cah’ me black

Woi, we feel a whole heap of pain, cah’ we black

And man a say they put me inna chains, cah’ we black

Imagine now, big gold chains full of rocks

How you no see the whip, left scars pon’ me back”

5:33 NARRATOR: Lamar is keen on employing historical context within the song. Frequently referring to slavery with the line  “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.


5:58 tape –[3:10-3:52] [clip from Lamars’s MTV News interview] I’m talking about I’m not I’m not speaking to the community. I’m not speaking of the community my homeboys…those are my real home bys on the album cover …they’re still over there no matter how much I want to bring them back and take them to other places  They still embody that know that still so when I say these lines ..Its for myself because I still feel next-door because I got to get a car knowing that somebody around the corner to done did this to my partner  I still feel that, I still feel hatred I still feel that… . I still feel that  ill will  to wanting to  do something…

6:40 tape –[2:39-2:59] [clip from Lamars’s MTV News interview] I’ve only been in the industry for four years and 20 years of being in the city of Compton  so when I said these things therapeutic for me, I need to respect this man because he’s a black man not because of his color that he’s wearing , that’s what I mean so I said take anything I said out of context  I’m not blaming the magazines I’m blaming the people listening to it or reading it from any remarks know who I am first  I’ve been through a lot and I seen a lot …where I come I did a lot to tear down my community .. so for you not to see that .. please learn it ”  

7:43 NARRATOR: “The Blacker the Berry ” is not just a song that expresses anger and frustration; it’s a song that is a call to action and 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.


Listen to the Full Song!