We Need Kendrick Lamar’s Music Now More Than Ever

Revisiting K-Dot’s genius in the midst of unprecedented times

Marcus K. Dowling


Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

As Black lives haven’t mattered and cities that were one-time citadels of Black excellence have been roiled by manic, racist antagonism, I’ve kept an ear open and eye out for one note of salvation: King Kendrick. The Negus. The good kid in a “m.A.A.d city.” The un-pimped butterfly. And I’ve heard nothing.

Maybe the age of pop-aspiring rap was so choked with snap-trappers, marble-mouthed mumblers, and turnt-out turn-ups that we were too devoid of our souls to receive the power of a cultural statement from Kendrick Lamar in the mainstream. So, thirsting for his voice, I dived into his catalog and found, as expected, all of the words I need to salve the wounds of my currently quite tenuous Black existence.

“LOYALTY.,” his collaboration with Rihanna from 2017’s Damn., sounds more like a call to stay true to my school. I mean the old-school way we as Black folk handled White antagonism on black-and-white newsreels. The time before Judas betrayed the…