- “Visions of Martin Luther Staring at me. Malcolm X put a hex on my future, someone catch me.” – Kendrick Lamar
As far as weather you are a Kendrick fan, or not, it’s really besides the point. There are obviously so many, justifiably, riding this cat’s hood ornate, razor sharp, supremely artistic, dual hemispherically blessed, poetic toolery, that I don’t think it’s necessary to go near that direction for the focus of this article. In fact, I don’t even qualify to write about that because I do not have the depth of grasp to articulate what the Real is on this dude from the perspective of true MC’in. You would need someone who is either a very gifted, veteran microphone master, or a knighted hip hop enthusiast, or both to attempt that task.
Instead, I want to address Mr Lamar in the context of him being a herald, an actual pragmatic prayer to the hip hop gods, answered. I should quickly follow that I use the reference of him being a prayer answered, referring to an unconscious activity taking place in our collective communal psyche. Nobody (that most of us would know) consciously prayed for a lyrical savant to be reborn from that old seething burial ground of the early, Bastard of the Party hatched, crack-sack turned magic corporate genie lamp, global gangsta rap mania mastermind group, NWA. But the fact is, whether you just kinda’ like rap music, loathe it or live and breathe it through your temples, we have all gotta experience it. It is the dominant musical art form of our era.
So, of course, we would unconsciously dream up an authentic, west coast, dysfunction ridden suburb fertilized, mission enriched, new hip hop voice to save us from all these other low Soul barometer pushers.
By “unconsciously dream up,” I mean the energy of our collective psychic field (as oblivious as we tend to be with it) called him forth, in the same way other timely human voices were called forth throughout various periods of our human evolution. We are in need, at the deep level of our communal Soul, for a voice that supports our own growth and evolution through this most complex and challenging period of it. Beyond a personal affinity for his witty stylization, many would easily concur with the statement, “Thank God for Kendrick.” And many hip hop devotees are obviously thankful to the hip hop gods (archetypes) for Kendrick. Hip hop needs it’s renewal and rejuvenation when the dynamism starts to die off to mediocrity.
But this is not to knock anyone else, even if I did slightly knock almost everyone else with the “low Soul barometer pushers” reference. It’s just that it is what it is, to be perhaps not so articulate… but then again… basically accurate. The process has to just has to cook up in one’s Self all at once in a given period. At first Kendrick was probably like any ol’ kid from the hood, cradling far fetched fantasies of being an accomplished rap gladiator with unshakable fame. But somewhere along the line, something happened in his evolutional process. He started to grow as if possessed by a daemon, while becoming one divinely blessed with a supreme gift, a talent of immense proportion. We all know it is said that, “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
And so you can’t just be a mere fledging MC, or a soda pop brand endorsement celebrating, umpteen bottles full a’ bub poppin, club rotation rocker, or a stranger to true, existentially wrenching, social struggle… or the most paltry candidate for ancestral communication and think that you will have any positively defining impact for a people as back against both the virtual and concrete walls as African Americans are.
We need, at this point, the whole kitchen sink (plumbing included), to use a familiar old cliche, as far as events and voices to come forth that create a jolting impact upon our state of affairs (in the same way a seemingly lifeless body can be shocked back into a vital state with the proper equipment). But we can’t see anything if you don’t have a programmer make it dance on the screen with flashy graphics twitching on a blog page or touch screen, or at least have it whoosh through the twitterverse to a few hundred thousand awaiting palms. This is because we are submerged fully into the digital era without a coherent broadcast or voice addressing our state of affairs. And therefore, absent the voices, our community is more disconnected then ever; though paradoxically, we have more gadgetry to connect with than ever.
So when the still freshly ascended MC opens the song Hiii Power with, “Visions of Martin Luther staring at me/ Malcolm X put a hex on my future someone catch me/I’ve fallen victim to a revolutionary song/ The Serengeti’s clone back to put you backstabbers back on your spinal bone,” (if we’re paying attention) we will get it’s the realm of the ancestors choosing to speak through him. Why, or how, would a young Compton, street shake n baked brotha, barely out of his teens, have “visions of Martin Luther staring” at him???
“Malcolm X put a hex on my future, someone catch me,” Kendrick simultaneously pleads and leads. But most ain’t gonna catch him because our listening system is almost tone deaf to that depth of the vibration of Soul. Young Kendrick is like Gil Scott with an iPhone. They’re all hexing and yelling through him; Marcus Garvey, Fred Hampton… and oh yeah, the…
Stupid, for those of you who are hip hop era, culture code challenged, in this context means gone to point of being outrageously activated. Kendrick is psychically activating in an outrageous way, to say the very least. Such an outrageous level of activation is exactly what is called for in today’s state of affairs where even with a black president, black males still make up the majority prison population (yet are only 6% of the total population); where we still have the highest unemployment rates in every category, and are still glimpsing the downfall of campus after campus of our treasured HBCUs, while across town the trickle of our population at mainstream campuses gradually drops off further. A trend of outrageous activationism would be truly useful about now, a la Huey Newton meets Harriet Tubman meets Imhotep hangin’ out with Morpheus.
If but only for the execution of a small slice of his repertoire, which directs straight to the communal wounds from repression and institutionalized racism, the whole of Kendrick Lamar is prayer answered.
You see, here at Afro Alchemist, we deal with the transformational process. In Alchemy, turning the lead into gold requires a fundamental shifting not only at the molecular level, but even further at the sub-atomic level. It can even supersede form and mandate a shift at the Principle level. In all of these cases the quo must be bypassed (you may know it as the status quo). The core dynamics which create and constitute the status quo must be explored, deconstructed, re-registered within the greater context, then traversed beyond in Consciousness.
So we don’t really have much blog space for non-game changers in this context (other than a quick riff). And even though digital space is basically infinite, we still don’t have the space! Because bullshit is infinite too.
I don’t even know Brotha Kendrick personally (though I wouldn’t be mad if I could say he was a Nephew or some relation), but the plot is thick out here, to say the least, and few can even hit the damn target period, much less get near the bull’s eye. Yet all of these events and forces are culminating in this moment such that something radically special is peeking forth with the arrival of a true dynamic, artistic visionary. A grimy, Thelonius ghettatonic microphone monkster is in the cosmic oven, with the creative temp right at around 375 degrees.
We don’t quite know how this will all unfold, which way he will turn. Or, if perhaps it will be in multiple directions at once like his predecessor, the mighty warrior Pac. But Kendrick seems to have a very humble, zealous, calm, almost suspiciously wise smile about it all. And he’s figured out how to really fuck with that remote.