Why I Dropped Everything And Started Teaching Kendrick Lamar’s New Album

Brian Mooney

When Kendrick Lamar released his sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), I was in the middle of teaching a unit on Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). My freshmen students were grappling with some big ideas and some really complex language. Framing the unit as an “Anti-Oppression” study, we took special efforts to define and explore the kinds of institutional and internalized racism that manifest in the lives of Morrison’s African-American characters, particularly the 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove and her mother, Pauline. We posed questions about oppression and the media – and after looking at the Dick & Jane primers that serve as precursors to each chapter, considered the influence of a “master narrative” that always privileges whiteness.

Set in the 1940s, the Breedlove family lives in poverty. Their only escape is the silver screen, a place where they idolize the glamorous stars of the film industry. Given the historical context…

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Wanderlust 

“This girl, like many girls, has a misconstrued view of what love really is due to what they see on TV and in movies. The girl is in love with the idea of what she perceives to be love. In her mind, love is what’s in the movies. Abel on the other hand is saying that love is as simple as any sexual act. So she’ll explore the world until she finds her meaning of love, which will inevitably never come to her. Abel is convincing her to break down those barriers and have fun instead of searching something she will never find.”- rap genius   

Frida y Diego 

What’s up with everyone and love ? Why does everyone want to experience it ? Why is everyone so desperate to be loved ? I mean what even is love ? It could mean a billion different things to somebody but all I know is that being someone’s muse is love. Being someone’s inspiration is love. Having someone write a poem or song or even drawing or panting about you now that’s love. When you touch someone’s creativity and inspiration now that is love. Without love we wouldn’t have the songs, poems , paintings we have today ! Imagine if Frida never had Diego where would we be right now. Maybe I’m just some crazy teenager that knows probably nothing about the world but if you ask me being someone’s muse is love.