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The Power of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”

Has Kendrick Lamar Recorded the New Black National Anthem?

I’ve been returning to this song again and again this spring and summer. In part that’s because “Alright” is just damn good ear candy, with its breezy Pharrell-produced harmonies, its swinging, laid-back production contrasting with Lamar’s skittering wordplay. But I also listen to it because it’s been a long and difficult year since Ferguson, and the world sometimes seems like a terrible place, and I need Lamar’s reminder that we’ve been down before. Another Black person shot by police? Turn on “Alright.” A young Black teenager’s graduation party turns into an unnecessarily horrifying police encounter? Turn on “Alright.” A White supremacist murders Black church members during a prayer session? Guess it’s time for “Alright.” A Black woman found hanging in her jail cell under suspicious circumstances? Well …

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