chapter  2
12 Pages

Can I be both?

Blackness and the negotiation of binary categories in Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80
WithMargarita Simon Guillory

“Can I be Both?: Blackness and the Negotiation of Binary Categories in Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80” finds Margarita Simon Guillory turning to Section.80 to ask if black selfhood can be understood as complicated and multivalent. Guillory explores “Poe Mans Dreams” and “Kush & Corinthians” in order to document the complexity of Lamar’s persona characterized by both righteousness and wickedness, what Guillory labels as effectively “bipolar,” “oppositional modes of identity” that consider the “individual and the collective.” Too often, blackness in popular culture is rendered either pathological or morally redemptive, with little room for ambiguity or nuance. Pushing for a more complex understanding of selfhood and self-definition, Guillory explores the relationship between contradictory modes of identity construction and conceptual notions of blackness, utilizing Lamar’s Section.80 to examine the creative ways that Lamar holds in tension various forms of ‘embodied contradictions’ to offer an intense depiction of blackness, one characterized by opposition, interplay, and dynamism.