The Lyric Review : Black Rage – Lauryn Hill

Echo Chamberz

Gemini season is upon us, and for some strange reason this season has birthed many of today’s beloved hip-hop favorites including Andre 3000, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to name a few.  Regardless of how much you may like or dislike these artists, there’s one undeniable trait that these artists have in common – the ability to be unapologetically true to themselves. This trait can occasionally have negative side effects, but little is greater than knowing who you are, your gifts and flaws, and still having the courage to share those intimate components of self with the world.  “Black Rage”, a song by a hip-hop artist, actress, songstress, and Gemini, Lauryn Hill, gives us a glimpse of the importance of self-knowledge and courage on the societal level.

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As soon as the melody commences, you’re only afforded one count to brace yourself for the…

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Part 2: High School Students Write Essays on Kendrick Lamar’s album, To Pimp A Butterfly

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Brian Mooney

“Over 40 years, we’ve made changes in this country, but did we make a change in the heart of the individual?” – Jalen (9th grade)

Since my last post about teaching Kendrick Lamar’s new album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) in the high school classroom, many people from around the world, including educators and music fans alike, have asked me to share some of my students’ writing. In this post, I will highlight some passages from their writing.

Part I includes writing from student essays comparing To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), by Kendrick Lamar and The Bluest Eye (1970), by Toni Morrison.

Part II includes writing from commentary responses on the class blog, in which students responded to the album cover and first three tracks on TPAB, with a special focus on the track titled “King Kunta.”

It’s important to note the following:

  • I used pseudonyms to protect the anonymity of…

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Why I Dropped Everything And Started Teaching Kendrick Lamar’s New Album

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Brian Mooney

When Kendrick Lamar released his sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), I was in the middle of teaching a unit on Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). My freshmen students were grappling with some big ideas and some really complex language. Framing the unit as an “Anti-Oppression” study, we took special efforts to define and explore the kinds of institutional and internalized racism that manifest in the lives of Morrison’s African-American characters, particularly the 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove and her mother, Pauline. We posed questions about oppression and the media – and after looking at the Dick & Jane primers that serve as precursors to each chapter, considered the influence of a “master narrative” that always privileges whiteness.

Set in the 1940s, the Breedlove family lives in poverty. Their only escape is the silver screen, a place where they idolize the glamorous stars of the film industry. Given the historical context…

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