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Music That Matters

Black Panther Album: "All the Stars" by Kendrick Lamar, SZA

Given the recent success of the hit, blockbuster movie Black Panther, coupled with the prominent civil discourse and mainstream media coverage around issues of race in America, this week we are dedicating our posts to Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar and various artists. Each day this week we’ll be rolling out posts on various songs off the album. Stay tuned and, as always, let us know your thoughts!

No stranger to producing top  hip-hop albums, the indomitable Kendrick Lamar has once again honed his creative ingenuity and ability to blend musical styles with the perspectives of the black panther movement.  (Inspired by Marvel’s new blockbuster hit, Black Panther, Kendrick’s album is its musical counterpart, capturing the undertones of the Black Panther movement.)”

Kendrick Lamar makes a solid showing with his hip hop album created to incite action in its listeners while illustration problems within predominantly black communities all across the globe. Lamar Incorporates many influences from thematic elements form the textual references from the film to African rhythms and musicians.

All The Stars

Key Lyrics

“Tell me what you gon' do to me
Confrontation ain't nothin' new to me
You can bring a bullet, bring a sword, bring a morgue
But you can't bring the truth to me”

Where's the Meaning?

Highlighting the attitude of gang culture, Lamar touches on a ‘live by the code, die by the code’ mentality. With this attitude deeply ingrained in the culture of ethics that govern gang’s behavior, this begs the question of where to begin in trying to find solutions to quell violence in these communities and against other groups. This simple verse uncovers a deep truth that could help communities and law enforcement understand the value structure of gang mentality and perhaps provide a starting point for engagement. To build a more inclusive society, gangs and other notorious actors must, at times, be engaged with rather than isolated or characterized as a parasitic entity furthering the divided of ‘us vs. them’. Understanding how these groups operate provides the opening door for diplomacy or, in more confrontational terms re: Sun Tzu’s age old saying, the ability to “know thy enemy”.

Compton has had a violent reputation, a reputation that reached the national spotlight in the late-1980s with the prominent rise of local ‘Gangsta Rap’ groups. The city became notorious for gang violence, primarily caused by the Bloods and Crips. According to the LA Times, between 2000 and 2016, 91.5% deaths in Compton were due to gun and gang related violence. Compare this to the national average of 67.7% and a picture of a violent setting becomes crystal clear.

Muse Point

  • What role do movies like Black Panther and music videos like All the Stars play in discussions about societal organization and community violence? Are they effective in guiding community groups toward increased understanding and discourse?

Cause Warriors

While these statistics are troubling, there are great organizations such as the Compton YouthBuild and The Compton Initiative that are initiating grassroots movements to better their communities through charitable work, outreach, and engagement. In fact, social outreach is a huge theme that runs throughout these songs and the film.