Kendrick Lamar did amazing at the Grammy’s a couple weeks ago. Superb. He deserved every single award he won. But he was completely snubbed by Album of the Year. Taylor Swift’s 1989 and Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly were on completely different level musically, and Swift’s greedy and white “feminist” album did not deserve album of the year.
First of all, Taylor Swift didn’t release her music on any music streaming website, including Spotify and YouTube. The only way you can listen to 1989 is by actively buying her album, evidence that she prioritizes making money off her work rather than sharing it with the world.
Her white feminism is apparent in her cultural appropriation throughout her music video of “Shake it Off” and glorifying the colonization of Africa in the video “Wildest Dreams.” This shows she only caters to the rich who can afford to buy her music, and is not using her white privilege in the right way.
To Pimp a Butterfly’s several layers of poetry and beauty can be rhetorically analyzed in English classes, with symbolism and imagery about the streets of Compton, opening up a discussion and adding an art element to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The vocabulary, the poetry, the beats, and the metaphors in To Pimp a Butterfly remain unparalleled. The punchlines in each one of his lines is jaw-dropping. English teachers teach Lamar’s work to their students. Brian Mooney, High Tech High School’s English teacher taught To Pimp a Butterfly alongside Toni Morrison’s work. Consequently, Lamar payed that high school class a visit.
Lamar’s songs “Complexion” and “Blacker the Berry” are dedicated to embracing one’s blackness. Lamar sends the message of the beauty of being black, externally and internally. Lamar being a black man and embracing his blackness is an important message for young black children listening to his music, and having someone in the mainstream media saying “This is beautiful, I am beautiful, and so are you!” is vital to young black people suffering from beauty standards portrayed in white media. (Lamar said it much more poetically than my summarizing)
Additionally, Lamar has stable characters that he introduced in his album Section 8.0 and maintained in his next two albums, good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp a Butterfly. These characters all have backgrounds and depth that’s just not seen in other artist’s works. For example, he has one character named “Lucy” that is most likely a metaphor for Lucifer. The stories behind each character is incredibly interesting. I would probably read a book about any one of his characters.
Lamar also exemplified vulnerability with his work when rapping about depression in To Pimp a Butterfly, perceptible in his song’s “i” and “u”. In “u” he speaks to his internal demons and about his hatred for himself, but he ends his album with “i”, rapping about how self-love is important, and uplifts his fans by rapping about overcoming depression. His songs are beautifully elating and inspiring, and shows us the difficulties of growing up in foster cares, and on the streets of Compton.
Kendrick Lamar deserved that Grammy Album of the Year award. I will never be convinced that Taylor Swift’s white “feminism” breakup album will ever deserve that award. I am disgusted by the people that gave Taylor Swift that award, and it was a lack of understanding To Pimp a Butterfly that snubbed Kendrick Lamar that award. One could go as far as saying it was an unconsciousness bigotry that gave Taylor Swift that Grammy instead of Lamar.