feature: kendrick lamar’s “alright” becomes a battle cry for protesters

August 3, 2015

Kendrick Lamar’s latest single “Alright” has become a source of hope and power for black people and protesters all around. In the face of police harassment, protesters cross arms and start to chant the lyrics.

By Devyn Springer, AFROPUNK Contributor

In a short video from July 26th shot at Cleveland State University, members of the The Movement for Black Lives Convening are seen reciting the lyrics to Kendrick’s song during a protest. In fact, the activists link arms and begin singing the song together as police began to pepper spray them; a bold and powerful move. According to the protesters, after police arrested a 14-year old boy they demanded his release. This uprising triggered the unnecessary use of pepper spray by police officers, which led to the chanting of the lyrics.

The song, which leads as a fire-spitting track of righteous strength and hope, assertions lyrics that command the attention of the listener and draws you into the struggle he’s presenting. The chorus boasts: And we hate Popo, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure/ nigga, I’m at the preacher’s door/ My knees gettin’ weak and my gun might blow but we gon’ be alright which reaffirms that ideals and actions of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

This is an example of how important and influential music can be, especially during political movements. Just as protesters for generations shouted Assata Shakur’s infamous phrase “we have nothing to lose but our chains,” and marchers have often sang “I’m on my way to freedom land,” so will people of our generation sing Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright.”

The visuals are just as political and provocative as the song itself. The video is shot in black and white, and features Kendrick flying around town rapping, dealing with police officers, and fully experiencing the dream world he creates. Check out the video below:

* Devyn Springer | Twitter @HalfAtlanta
D.S. Photography