I am very excited to be discussing DNA by Kendrick Lamar this semester because even though he is not Harry Styles, I am very interested in further exploring how his mind works in terms of songwriting, vocal delivery, and the direction of his music video. There have been countless songs written about race issues in today’s society, but I feel as though this one is different because it is able to be celebratory, condemning, observational, and accusatory at the same time in both the lyrics and the background music. One particular thing that I am going to unpack in detail is the part in the song where he samples FOX news reporter Geraldo Rivera saying that hip hop has done more damage to African Americans that racism. I think it was beautifully inserted and added a good transition point in the song. In addition, through mild research, I found out that the reason for him saying this a second time was due to him watching a live Kendrick Lamar performance of Alright, another politically charged song by the artist.

In terms of research, the message of the song is something I can focus on. Kendrick Lamar is talking about his DNA, which implies both race and family upbringing. Doing more research into his childhood and early life will likely be beneficial considering there are multiple lyrics where he talks about his struggles growing up. I also would like to center a big portion of my analysis and research on the music video, which brings a new perspective on the song. It is Kendrick being put through a lie detector test in an interrogation room by Don Cheadle, who plays what appears to be the detective interrogating him. Cheadle starts to sing the beginning of the song, then Kendrick sings a second part when the lyrics shift a bit to more accusatory, until they are finally rapping together in the same way about half way through the video. The second half is more action packed, starting with him either killing or inebriating Cheadle, then coming out in Asian inspired clothing and becomes his alter ego, Kung Fu Kenny. There are many other layers of this music video that I am excited to unravel.

Another big reason I chose this particular issue is because as a white woman, I cannot ever fully relate to the struggles of a black man in America. However, I would like to use this research to educate myself more in order to empathize. I think that this specific angle of the racism issue is important to analyze because it combines both positive and negative aspects of African American DNA. My only concern is how I am going to combine these two in my podcast, or if I should focus more on the negative aspects than positive in order to educate my listeners on racism in society. But other than that, not only am I willing to dedicate 11 weeks to this song, but I am looking forward to it, because maybe by the end of the semester I’ll learn all the words and be able to rap along to some of it!