Pop Culture Draft

David Wu


Prof. Hall

Eng. 1121


What is police brutality? It’s when police officers use unnecessary excessive force against people. Police brutality against African Americans is one of the most serious social problems that affects many states across the US. This issue has gained special attention in recent years due to the numerous killings of young black people by police officers. This issue has gone so far that it has sparked various movements, such as the well known “Black Lives Matter” movement. One of the main stereotypes against the police officers across America is that they unfairly discriminate against people of color, while being more lenient towards white people.

On March 2015, Kendrick Lamar made his message on the music video “Alright.” This song became the anthem of the nation’s rallying cry, especially for the Black Lives Matter movement. The troubles of police brutality victims can be heard in every breath of Lamar’s takes on “Alright” as he states with “Homie you fucked up, But if God got us then we gon’ be alright.” The music video starts by showing shots of life in a neighborhood. A young African-American man is seen lying on the ground and Kendrick begins speaking. Police and destruction flood the scene as the music starts, Kendrick and friends are seen riding in a car. As the camera rotates, we can see that the car is being carried by 4 white police officers. During the video, Kendrick flies through California, while his friends are throwing out money to everybody and dancers performing in the streets. At the end of the music video, Kendrick stands on a lamp post and a policeman shoots him down. Kendrick falls to the ground finishing his statements from the beginning of the video, but ends the video with a smile.

The video contains themes of the relationship between the black community and the police, an issue that was a hot topic at the time and still is today. The anthem of the song, the symbolic importance of its chorus, and its deep references to African American history are all cautious. And it’s clear that it took much more than the beat and hook coming together for “Alright” to become “the protest song of our generation”, as Rick Rubin puts it. “That song could’ve went a thousand other ways,” Lamar states.

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