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The Genius of Kendrick Lamar's "YAH"
Punishment or gift?
Double park the Aston
It is a curious facet of human nature, the incessant need to find meaning before death that claws at the fire of your being- like a hungry, yet immortal rat. Time after time, the only other human phenomenon that has driven our subconscious with such ferocity is sex- and even that and the quest for meaning are hardly ever mutually exclusive. Countless thinkers have based their lives on this conundrum but my personal favourite answers of these are from Albert Camus and of course kung Fu Kenny.
Yah is an intoxicating song (actually, the whole Damn album is a musical bungie jump with Kendrick ever so confidently guiding your fall) but Yah is pure genius.
“I got so many theories and suspicions.” Kendrick’s drunken delivery echoes through your ears as Kendrick dissects how aware he is of the happenings around him even down to how he is perceived;
“I’m diagnosed with real Nigga conditions.” These are themes he tackles all through this album, such as in feel he is worried people view to much as a “saviour” to even attempt to worry about him. This is a theme in a lot of music, it is no real shock that celebrity is elevated to an absurd status in this version of earth. It gets to the point where the person is idolised to the point where the individual becomes more of a backdrop for the projections of the public unto them; like Andy Warhol take on the celebrity of Marilyn Monroe, more the negative or the idea than the actual woman. So, when unwittingly you become the pseudo prophet for a large section of the black community, what is the answer you give them for that grandiose question- what exactly is the meaning of life? Of all the suffering faced that fox news may or may not deny for ratings, why does any of this matter?
“We should imagine Sisyphus happy!” Paraphrasing Albert Camus for the purpose of making a point- stick with me I promise it becomes worth it.
Minimalism is quite misunderstood, I mean it is generally perceived as an eloquent excuse for laziness, like post modernism or media studies degree. However, I believe there are artistic statements to be made by stripping the elements of a piece down to the finely refined basics. Christians do it all the time to great effect, a song stripped down to simple piano chords and the harmony of a choir is used to communicate – all I want to say to an all knowing, all powerful being of perfection, is thank you.
How does Kendrick use minimalism? Craft the answer to the question, not a prophecy, not a grandiose answer, not hoping some biblical curse is lifted, just keep it simple. Enjoy the intricately beautiful simplicity that this reality gifts you. Whatever tags on your identity people perceive you with are inconsequential, because ultimately you are bigger than all arbitrary denominations: black, rapper, prophet, problem. We are cognoscente beings, capable of feeling awe and understanding- neigh creating beauty.
“My latest muse is my niece, she worth living. See me on the tv and scream “that’s uncle Kendrick!”.” I find this sentiment astoundingly profound, and the seductive nature with which Kendrick weaves through the lines of the song with an almost untouchable swagger. Simplicity in the right hands can be profound, this is probably my favourite song of the year so far because the narcissist inside me is gladdened that I’m not the only weirdo with this mindset. This song is hypnotically comforting to me, because ultimately- we are Sisyphus and that makes me happy.
© 2017 Samuel