It looks like I am back at it again with the new semester after taking the fall off for a break. I received a lot of positive feedback on my passion blogs, so I am ecstatic to analyze even more songs. Who else to start the semester off than Compton’s finest-Kendrick Lamar.
Todays lyrics will come from one of my favorite Kendrick albums- Section 80. Here, Kendrick takes us through a journey of Compton and his life. I enjoy listening to Kendrick because you can feel his emotion and somehow emphasize his past through his various songs.
(I put the song at the bottom of this post, you can listen to it before you read the lyrics or you can do it simultaneously)
[Kendrick Lamar] (Intro)
Everybody put three fingers in the air
The sky is falling, the wind is calling
Stand for something or die in the morning
Section 80, HiiiPoWeR
(Verse 1) Visions of Martin Luther staring at me
Malcolm X put a hex on my future, someone catch me
I’m falling victim to a revolutionary song
The Serengeti’s clone
Back to put you backstabbers back on your spinal bone
You slipped your disc when I slid you my disc
You wanted to diss, but jumped on my d–k
Grown men never should bite their tongue
unless you eating p—y that smell like it’s a stale plum
I got my finger on the motherf–king pistol
aiming it at a pig, Charlotte’s Web is gonna miss you
My issue isn’t televised, and you ain’t gotta tell the wise
how to stay on beat, because our life’s an instrumental
This is physical and mental, I won’t sugar-coat it
You’d die from diabetes if these other ni—s wrote it
And everything on TV just a figment of imagination
I don’t want no plastic nation, (dread) that like a Haitian
While you mot–rfu—s waiting, I be off the slave ship
Building pyramids, writing my own hieroglyphs
Just call the s—t HiiiPoWeR
N—a, nothing less than HiiiPoWeR
Five-star dishes, food for thought bit–s
I mean the s–t is, Huey Newton going stupid
You can’t resist his, HiiiPoWeR
Throw your hands up for HiiiPoWeR
Interpretation of Lyrics and Thoughts
When Kendrick opens up the his first verse with, “Visions of Martin Luther staring at me” I somehow, in the moment can see the same visions. Ironically, I am writing this post on MLK day and it gives me the chance to sit down and reflect on everything that MLK has done to fight for the civil rights of colored people in America. Kendrick continues the next line by referencing Malcolm X, who was another civil rights activist but often took the route of violence and had less influence than MLK.
Another thing to take into note is that Kendrick’s father was involved with the black power gang in Chicago. In order to escape the violence that was going on, his family moved to Compton. Thus, having Malcolm X having a hex on his future.
This I believe is an amazing way to open up the song, because Section 80 is an album where Kendrick talks about his background and he explains on how he is trying to empower the people from his familiar background.
In the theme of civil rights and justice, Kendrick continues verse one by claiming people (notably grown men) should speak up when they need to. He says that “Grown men should never bite their tongue.” If you feel that an injustice is happening, SPEAK UP.
To me Kendrick is an awesome lyricist, as in, his figurative language is very well thought out and complex. It may take a couple of listens before I can finally decipher everything that he is saying. With that disclaimer, I may not be able to pick everything up within his first verse.
In terms of the last paragraph, Kendrick tells us that he has his pistol pointed at a pig and that Charlotte’s Web will miss it. Again, to bring up the rhetoric of civil rights and justice the pig represents the police and the “web” represents the government.
Now what he says next I feel very strongly about. He goes on to say “My issue isn’t televised” meaning that the problems that people from his background (particularly people living in Section 8 housing) are not known to the average American or that the average American does not even care.
Again with the comment that I meant by Kendrick’s wordplay – “You’d die from diabetes if these other ni—s wrote it.” Kendrick is saying that he is trying to tell nothing but the straight, hard facts. If other people wrote it, they would try to make it sound much better than the situation really was, thus “sugarcoating” it. Side Note: You can get type 2 diabetes from eating a lot of sugar!!
To finish off the verse, Kendrick goes into the deeper meaning of HiiPower. I believe it is the initiative to finally think for yourself and not to go full-heartedly into everything that is told to you. As my history teacher told me; “The winners are the people that write history.” To get into this tangent I will explain a personal experience that I had with this issue. [ When I was in elementary school, we learned about Christopher Columbus and how he found the “new world” by coming to America first. The only problem I had with this was that as I grew older, I learned about all the heinous acts that Columbus committed specifically to the Native Americans. I didn’t learn the full truth behind Columbus because authority did not want me to know.] Like Kendrick is trying to tell us, the government will only tell us the half-truth or anything short of the full truth. That is what he means by “anything on TV is a figment of imagination.”
Kendrick ends by saying that he will create his own movement while everything is going on in the background. By being African American, Kendrick will embrace the situation he is in and use it to empower his people-which I can say that he is doing an amazing job. But don’t take my word for it.
Listen to HiiPoWer below