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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Kendrick Lamar Addresses Criticism to His Ferguson Remarks With "The Blacker the Berry"

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 4:00 AM

Page 2 of 3

Six in the morn', fire in the street
Burn, baby, burn, that's all I wanna see

The nerds Internet scholars over at Rap Genius assert that Lamar is alluding to the Ferguson protests in these bars -- specifically, to the night of August 16, when a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew was put in place by Governor Nixon. If there is fire in the streets at 6 a.m., that would mean the curfew has been ignored. "Burn baby, burn," a catchphrase attributed to LA-based soul DJ Magnificent Montague, alludes to the Watts riots in 1965, where it morphed into a popular rallying cry among protesters and rioters.

From here the song directly addresses African American stereotypes as well as systemic oppression, with lines like these:

You hate me, don't you?
You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture
You're fuckin' evil, I want you to recognize that I'm a proud monkey
You vandalize my perception but can't take style from me

And these:

This plot is bigger than me, it's generational hatred
It's genocism, it's grimy, little justification
I'm African-American, I'm African
I'm black as the heart of a fuckin' Aryan

The titular line of the track, just before the chorus, is even more blunt:

The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
The blacker the berry, the bigger I shoot

Throughout the song, though, at the start of each verse, Lamar describes himself as "the biggest hypocrite of 2015," assuring the listener that by the end of the song we will understand why.

The song's final couplet brings it all into focus:

So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?
When gang banging make me kill a ni--a blacker than me?

Lamar has admitted to being involved in gang activity in his youth, even losing a close friend to street violence in his teens. He has said that this was a turning point for him, leading him to music and a strong faith in God. The narrative told on Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City plays out the same way.

With the song's final reveal, "The Blacker the Berry" asserts that there is hypocrisy in those condemning the killings of people of color by white people while simultaneously engaging in violent behavior that also takes black lives. Some might even say Lamar is doubling down on his remarks to Billboard, while attempting to offer context.

Will this spark more outrage? Should it? Sound off in the comments.

Continue to page three to read the full lyrics to "The Blacker the Berry."

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