chapter  4
16 Pages

Singing experience in Section.80

Kendrick Lamar’s poetics of problems
WithMichael Thomas

Michael Thomas’s chapter, “Singing Experience in Section.80: Kendrick Lamar’s Poetics of Problems,” explores the chronic trouble over not allowing black art to simply “be,” looking to Lamar’s reception as inherently “social” and emblematic of strictures historically (and still) imposed on black creative expression. For the philosopher Thomas, Lamar’s art creatively plays with the tension between our interpretations of black artistic production and our (collective) reception of black experience and life, writ large. Thomas examines “Ronald Reagan Era,” “F*ck Your Ethnicity,” and other tracks from Section.80. Based on his analysis, Thomas argues that Lamar is bound to this narrowing of interpretive possibilities for black art and life, what Thomas refers to as ‘restriction,’ while Lamar is at the same time – and like artists before him – able to negotiate this space of tension in productive, varied ways.