chapter  1
6 Pages

Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80

Reagan-era blues
WithRalph Bristout

Ralph Bristout’s chapter, “Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80: Reagan-Era Blues,” argues that in a microwave-based and on-demand culture, Lamar’s music rises above the dominant boring noise to offer some of the most masterful artistic statements of the 2010s. Among these compelling works is 2011’s Section.80. Bristout has us consider that if good kid, m.A.A.d city plays sonic film and To Pimp A Butterfly is pure poetry, then Section.80 is a volume of short stories. Inspired by a dream of Tupac Shakur, these stories offer a pensive interpretation of, and answer to, Shakur’s “Thug Life” maxim: “The Hate U Give Little Infants F – ks Everybody.” Bristout argues that in his ability as a lyrical orator, Kendrick pulls from visions of Martin Luther King Jr. (“HiiiPower”), reflects on the path of the conflicted (“Kush & Corinthians”), and meditates on the children of the Reagan era (“Ronald Reagan Era”) to deliver a cultural snapshot of the enduring black struggle. Speaking directly to the contemporary black experience in the aftermath of the 1980s Reaganomics, Bristout suggests that Lamar narrates the psychological and physical baggage from the perspective of being smack dab in “the dead f – king center” of the struggle, “looking around.”