The intersection of music and social activism was seen in a big way as Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” seemingly became the anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement in 2015. For Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list, BLM co-founder Alicia Garza penned her love for the artist and his Grammy-award winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly.
Garza recalled the first time she listened to the record and various emotions she explored. “The first time I heard To Pimp a Butterfly was on a crowded plane heading to Jackson, Miss.,” she said. “With headphones on, there I was, bobbing my head and having audible conversations with myself because that album made me feel—moved and troubled, challenged, uplifted, angry, skeptical and raw. Far from creating “conscious rap,” Kendrick Lamar has evolved a new genre of movement music that asserts no answers but raises hard questions and brings us together to take them on.”
K.Dot’s televised performances of “Alright” and “Blacker The Berry” have stirred up controversy as the rapper challenges topics like fatal police practices and prison reforms that have greatly affected African-Americans. In closing, Garza says the artist’s ability to challenge society has given a voice to the voiceless.
“Kendrick should be applauded for inviting us to face things that are uncomfortable, for celebrating our will to survive and for being audacious enough to grapple with the questions that we all need to answer if we ever hope to get free,” she said.
Check out the rest of Garza’s essay here.