When Kendrick Lamar released “Alright”, parts of the country were in uproar over the mistreatment of people of color by the police. In 2015, the Black Lives Matter movement was prominent in many cities across the country and was broadcasted on many different news platforms. Racism in this country, and the fight against it, has been going on for hundreds of years. “Alright” became an anthem for protestors during this moment in the movement’s history. We now lived in a time where people began recording themselves and others who had been mistreated, beaten, and abused by law enforcement and the country was seeing it through social media platforms. It was only a year after this song came out that Philando Castile was taped bleeding to death after being shot by police. “Alright” became an anthem of empowerment that protestors and people of color could chant together to let racists know that they were there and there was nothing that was stopping them. In the pre-hook to the song, it states,

“…and we hate po po

 wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho’,

N-word, I’m at the preacher’s door,

My knees gettin’ weak, and my gun might blow

But we gon’ be alright”

In these lines, Lamar is referencing one of the hardships that people of color have faced, the police killing them in the streets. This is in reference to past history as well as the state of the country in over the past ten years.

The song has a couple moments of sociological imagination. Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest rappers of all time because he knows how to tell a story and how to write from the perspectives of different people. In this song, we see the idea of power switch between many different characters. For example, in the beginning of the song, we can feel Kendrick having power. In the first verse he says

“Schemin’, and let me tell you ‘bout my life

Painkillers only put me in the twilight

Where pretty p*ssy and Benjamin is the highlight

Now tell my momma I love her, but this what I like, Lord Knows”


In these lines, Lamar is referencing all the vices that he has attained since becoming a famous rapper. These specifically being women, drugs, and money. In this scenario, one would think being able to attain these vices means that there is a certain level of power that has been attained. However, later in the song we see that Kendrick never really has power in two ways. The obvious way is in the pre-chorus as stated early when Lamar references the police killing people in the street. It doesn’t matter that Kendrick is a famous rapper, he is still a black man in America with stereotypes and disadvantages put against him because of it. The other person who has power of Kendrick is the devil. In a later verse in the song, Lamar raps

“What you want you? A house or a car?

Forty acres and a mule? A piano, a guitar?

Anything, see my name is Lucy, I’m your dog

Motherf*cker, you can live at the mall”

In these lines, and in the rest of the verse, Lucifer or “Lucy” is the one influencing Kendrick to spend all of his money and fall into his vices. Therefore, Kendrick never really was on top, but was falling into Lucy’s power over him. What I am excited to discuss further in the podcast episode is the role of Lucy in this song and in the album. I think when I can full dive into that layer of the song, it will just emphasize the points Kendrick is mak