Kendrick Lamar v. Drake: Exposing the Literacy Issue in Community.

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(ThyBlackMan.com) The beef, and all of its fall out, of Kendrick Lamar and Drake is leaving so much more to be discussed beyond the music. Music has always been a conversation piece. So it’s no surprise that each song is being dissected and analyzed bar by bar. That has been an interesting discussion amongst fans. Depending on one’s understanding of Hip Hop the depth of the conversation varies. What I find to be interesting though is the discourse is shining a light on a particular issue that is important, but not widely discussed in the debate over these artists. Literacy in our community has been a disturbing issue for years that was only exasperated by the pandemic. Our ability to read and comprehend…then communicate said comprehension is sorely lacking. This is dangerous and something that is just as important as all the allegations that are flying as a result of the lyrics we’ve been hearing. This might not be a subject of interest in the midst of a rap beef; part of the issue with a lot of the discussion happening is we literally not understanding what is being said, nor are we comprehending. Yes, it is that deep.

Kendrick Lamar v. Drake: Exposing the Literacy Issue in Community.

Let’s begin by clarifying that I am not speaking of literacy in terms of collegiate education. We are talking about basic high school education, understanding of language and word usage. In Hip Hop the bars matter; the lyricism and word play & usage matter. At its origin it may matter more so than the track, and over the course of this beef we’ve seen the discussion of tracks be used to deflect discussing the actual lyrical content or lack thereof. Lyrically Kendrick Lamar is superior to Drake, and more than his Pulitzer Prize says so, though that’s a great reference to his superior word usage. There were so many people that did not understand what an entendre is in literature and this beef educated some on the use of literary terms.

However, if one is observing the conversations, it is very clear there is a lack of comprehension at play and on that not we have to set the lyrics down and speak about this problem. If you are thinking it, yes fandom was also at play in the commentary and some people blatantly chose to defect, defend, or simply excuse away Drake trying to attack Kendrick Lamar as a rapper concerned about freeing slaves. So, there is that element here, but it is also one whose depth is not understood fully because too many of us, if we were reading the lyrics, simply don’t know what we were reading.

How many of us read on a regular basis when it is not demanded of us? Yes, music is something we listen to, but the verses are a literary form. The discussions were not just being had by adults, and in paying attention to the teenagers we truly realize we are not stressing reading and comprehension amongst our children, and that is something as a community we must come together to fix. Our kids won’t understand when they have been insulted and when they should be offended. In the same vein they won’t know when they are being defended and validated within one’s culture. Literacy is about more than just being able to keep a job. Literacy is freedom; our ancestors understood the importance of being able to read and comprehend. This is something we have gotten away from and it shows. While we’re arguing over beef there is proof that we need to read more, we need to work on understanding, and this leads to better communication.

It is time we prioritize literacy. We must read ourselves in order to project that to our children. They need to see us look up the lyrics, grab a dictionary when we don’t know the words we see, and then educate ourselves on concepts in the text that we don’t know. They need to see the process. Take the time to read to your kids and help them understand what they are reading. Introduce them to a dictionary so they can expand their vocabulary. This is bigger than music, and literacy is also important in understanding the music that they are listening to. As a community we cannot afford for the discourse over what we are reading and hearing to decline any further.  We cannot afford to see the communication as a result of the lack of literacy to get any worse. This is just one of the issues that was reflected as we fussed about beef.

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

May connect with this sister over at FacebookC. Starr and also TwitterMrzZeta.

Also via email at; CStarr@ThyBlackMan.com.