One of the greatest living authors analyzes one of the greatest living rappers.

When Kendrick Lamar surprised us all with the release of his new single ‘Blacker The Berry‘ (then surprised us again once we heard his furious performance) the author Michael Chabon, best known for the Pultizer Prize winning novel The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay was listening.

Today the author signed in to lyrics site Genius and wrote comments about the instantly iconic final couplet of the song: “So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street? / When gang banging make me kill a nigga blacker than me? / Hypocrite!”

Chabon compares the ending reveal to Common’s metaphors in ‘I Used To Love H.E.R’ and examines the way the song deals with hypocrisy.

Listen to ‘Blacker The Berry’ and read Chabon’s comments below.

“In this final couplet, Kendrick Lamar employs a rhetorical move akin to — and in its way even more devastating than — Common’s move in the last line of “I Used to Love H.E.R.”: snapping an entire lyric into place with a surprise revelation of something hitherto left unspoken. In “H.E.R.”, Common reveals the identity of the song’s “her” — hip hop itself — forcing the listener to re-evaluate the entire meaning and intent of the song. Here, Kendrick Lamar reveals the nature of the enigmatic hypocrisy that the speaker has previously confessed to three times in the song without elaborating: that he grieved over the murder of Trayvon Martin when he himself has been responsible for the death of a young black man. Common’s “her” is not a woman but hip hop itself; Lamar’s “I” is not (or not only) Kendrick Lamar but his community as a whole. This revelation forces the listener to a deeper and broader understanding of the song’s “you”, and to consider the possibility that “hypocrisy” is, in certain situations, a much more complicated moral position than is generally allowed, and perhaps an inevitable one.” – Michael Chabon



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