“The Blacker the Berry” by Kendrick Lamar
In this poetic piece, Kendrick Lamar raps about all the trouble black people go through simply because of their race. The song begins with him outlining how African Americans continue to struggle even in modern American society because of institutionalized racism which hinders most of them from achieving more than they have or deserve.
The song mainly talks about how the American society enjoys the creativity of blacks, yet tries to tone down the reality of racism evident in their communities. He makes several references to police brutality, gun violence, and mass incarcerations while suggesting that these events indicate modern slavery.
Throughout the song, Lamar expresses pride in his race while emphasizing on the fact that despite racist white expectations, African American men like himself keep succeeding in their careers. The song takes an unexpected turn though when Lamar calls himself a hypocrite, alluding to the fact that like him, the rest of the black community are also responsible for harming their own people through gun violence in addition to the modern-day racism, incarcerations and killings they all have to deal with.
“The Blacker the Berry” highlights the rapper’s disgust and anger towards racist White America and the poor treatment of blacks in the country.
FYI: Lemar once indicated in an interview that some part of the song talked about his personal life.
Facts about “The Blacker the Berry”
This Kendrick Lamar classic was released in February of 2015. It was Lamar’s second single to be released from his iconic 2015 studio album named “To Pimp a Butterfly”.
Lamar wrote it with support from the following:
- Jeffrey Campbell
- Stephen Kozmeniuk
- Matthew Samuels
- Ken Lewis
- Alexander Izquierdo
- Brent Kolatalo
Due to the strong message in this classic, it quickly became one of 2015’s biggest songs.
For instance, it charted on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as, the UK Singles Charts.
In 2015, Lamar, together with three other record labels (including Interscope) were sued by Giordano Cipriani, a photographer, for allegedly using his piece for the artwork of the song without his approval. In the suit, he demanded that he should be paid $150,000 for any time they used his work.
Controversy aside, experts have praised the song with others arguing that it is probably one of the rapper’s best songs ever.
Notable Live Performances
One of the most notable live performances of “The Blacker the Berry” took place at the 2016 Grammy Awards.
In 2015, Lamar collaborated with the National Symphony Orchestra to perform this song live in Washington.