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Maybe it’s time we pray for Kendrick Lamar.

On his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick undergoes a metamorphosis from self-loathing Compton rapper to self-loving global icon, a transformation he likens to caterpillar turned butterfly. It seemed to function as a blueprint for salvation, aimed especially at the African-American community navigating the racially charged strains of modern America.

But rather than end Butterfly on the euphoria of the song “i,” Kendrick instead concludes with the epilogue “Mortal Man.” After spending the majority of the album questioning himself and the world around him, “Mortal Man” asks us, his listeners, to question ourselves, specifically the build-them-up watch-them-fall relationship we have with our leaders. He reminds us that however large his mythos has become, he’s human and he’ll need our loyalty when “shit hits the fan.”

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“Mortal Man” is a foreboding provocation, an insightful premonition about his future after the release of To Pimp a Butterfly, an album he knew would propel him beyond his then status of critically-acclaimed rapper. Indeed, Kendrick is now in the eyes of many a savior who can lead us to the promise land.

Two years later, we get the album DAMN., an incredibly dark, dense record, and perhaps Kendrick’s most honest to date. While we’re still in the incubation stages of processing DAMN., today’s bonus episode of Dissect contain my first impressions, more opening remarks than analysis. Enjoy.

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