UPDATE: Kendrick Lamar announced that his upcoming album will be released on March 23rd.
Fresh off picking up two Grammys for the standalone single “I” and appearing in the Straight Outta Compton red-band trailer, Kendrick Lamar resurfaces with a powerful new track titled “The Blacker the Berry.”
Lamar had been hinting at a shift in his lyricism from the coming-of-age Compton tales on good kid, m.A.A.d. city to a more socially charged palette on newer tracks like “I” and the “Untitled” song he brought to the Colbert Report, but neither of those songs pack the venom that Lamar squeezes out of “The Blacker the Berry.”
Produced by Boi-1da with additional production by Terrace Martin, Lamar’s newest single takes aim at institutional violence, hypocrisy and termination of his culture. “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015 / Once I finish this, witnesses will convey just what I mean,” Lamar raps at the onset of every verse. “The plot is bigger than me / it’s generational hatred / it’s genocism, it’s grimy, little justification / I’m African-American, I’m African / Black as the heart of a fuckin’ Aryan / I’m black as the name Tyrone and Darius.”
Alongside Lamar’s confrontational words and Boi-1da’s engulfing production, “The Blacker the Berry” also features dancehall artist Assassin — who made a memorable appearance on Kanye West’s “I’m in It” — on the chorus.
In an eye-opening stanza that closes out the track and further cements Lamar’s status as one of the best rappers today, Lamar raps, “So don’t matter how much I say I like to preach with the Panthers / Or tell Georgia State, ‘Marcus Garvey got all the answers’ / Or try to celebrate February like it’s my b-day / Or eat watermelon, chicken and Kool-Aid on weekdays / Or jump high enough to get Michael Jordan endorsements / Or watch BET cause urban support is important / So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street? / When gangbangin’ made me kill a nigga blacker than me / Hypocrite.”
It’s unclear whether “The Blacker the Berry” will appear on Lamar’s much-anticipated follow-up to good kid, m.A.A.d. city, or when the rapper will release his next album.