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Emerging with the concept of Black Power, a group of motivated artists visualized an art that spoke directly to the needs and aspirations of Black America. This movement is called the “Black Arts Movement”. According to Larry Neal, The political values that are inherent in the Black Power concept have found ways in the aesthetic of Afro-American musicians, poets, and novelists. Just like Art is a form of expression, the movement was a way for Black people to define the world in their own terms and to revise their perception of themselves.
It was also believed to be an essential component to the political and cultural empowerment of the black community . The Black Arts Movement gave opportunity to any man or woman to speak on the needs of black people and to confront the conflict that is arising out of an African American experience in a racial society. In this essay I will be explaining how Black Art was used to influence music that this generation artist produced today.
One of the most significant pop idiom in this generation is rap music. Rap became the twenty first century sound of black art and ended up being an implicit conversation about segregation, slavery, and other injustice issues that our society choose to ignore. Former Artist Kendrick Lamar is a prime example of a black american artist who spoke on the issues of a broken nation that is struggling to understand themselves. In his “To pimp a butterfly” album kendrick spoke on issues that involved colorism, racialized self-hatred and growing up amongst violence and poverty.
It was an album about the black experience in the United states that was rarely played because of its heavy subject matter. For example Kendrick lamar explains on his interview with rolling stone that his record “u” was one of the hardest songs he had to write because there was a lot of his dark moments in there that made it very depressing. In the song his audience can analyze that Kendrick basically blaming himself and putting himself down for everything that was going on at home while he was out making music. The verse
“Where was the influence you speak of? You preached in front of 100,000 but never reached her I fuckin’ tell you, you fuckin’ failure—you ain’t no leader I never liked you, forever despise you—I don’t need you!” was him basically questioning himself on how he can preach in front of thousands of people and make a difference in their lives, but couldn’t even help the one that was close to him. Kendrick begins to hate himself for not being a bigger influence in his sister life and ends up exposing the negative thoughts that plagued his mind.
Following up after kendrick lay his burdens, the record “Alright” provided a moment of hope to the album battle to find higher purpose. It was a response on kendrick way of escaping his troubles. By trusting in god, Kendrick is able to look passed his failure and have confidence that everything will be okay. The message of this song was also driven off by a certain type of struggle and pain. Bringing up the awareness of police brutality against blacks, this issue has left many people wondering if there was any progress towards racial equality. The song had a huge impact on the Black Live Matters movement, especially in the 2015 protest where activist even chanting “We gon be alright” to mourn the countless deaths of minorities that were killed by the police during this time and provide hope for a better future. In 2018, Kendrick Lamar took home the Pulitzer Prize for his album DAMN. He was the first non Classical or Jazz artist to ever receive this prestigious prize. This win became a very big deal because his label album became works of art. With him writing his songs about blackness, street life, police brutality , and self worth. Kendrick Lamar became the voice of this generation, a leader of hip hop, and a person who crossed over to audience outside of rap.
Kendrick Lamar became a perfect example to Larry Neal definition of Black Art. Due to the fact that in the article Larry explains that for a person to create Black Art he or she “must create new forms and new values, sing new songs (or purify old ones); and along with other Black authorities, he must create a new history, new symbols, myths, and legends (and purify old ones by fire).” Kendrick Lamar did exactly that. His songs like “Alright” and “The blacker the berry”, have became anthems in the wake of high-profile police shooting of minorities.Kendrick lamar music outlined the struggles of an African American and spoke directly about the issues that needs to be solved in the black community, and therefore is considered to produce Black art by definition.
To conclude Black Art was not like any Art. It represented a powerful meaning to any black american who experienced or is currently experiencing any issues in the society we live in today. It was used to uplift and empower one man to another, and was used to define a clear perception of Black Americans. Even to this day Black art is still being used to speak on everyday problems that people choose to ignore and is used to bring people together as one.
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