The first time I heard To Pimp a Butterfly was on a crowded plane heading to Jackson, Miss. With headphones on, there I was, bobbing my head and having audible conversations with myself because that album made me feel—moved and troubled, challenged, uplifted, angry, skeptical and raw. Far from creating “conscious rap,” Kendrick Lamar has evolved a new genre of movement music that asserts no answers but raises hard questions and brings us together to take them on. Thank God for his trip to South Africa, which he says made him want to put everything he was seeing and experiencing into an album that could translate that experience to someone in the ghettos of Compton, Calif. Kendrick should be applauded for inviting us to face things that are uncomfortable, for celebrating our will to survive and for being audacious enough to grapple with the questions that we all need to answer if we ever hope to get free.
Garza is an activist and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement