We continue our season long analysis of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar with the album’s twelfth track “Complexion (A Zulu Love).”
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After battling depression, survival’s guilt, temptation, selfishness, and suicidal thoughts, Kendrick was humbled by an encounter with god on the album’s previous track “How Much a Dollar Cost?”
Kendrick’s repentance represents the album’s axis point and signals the beginning of Act 4, which I’ve titled “The Butterfly Sheds Light.” Having been humbled by god, Kendrick will embrace his leadership role, and become an advocate for the Compton’s of the world. Over the next four tracks, Kendrick will speak directly to the black community and preach a message of unity, love of self, and independence.
Kendrick’s first order of business will be to address colorism and black beauty on “Complexion (A Zulu Love).” Inspired by his pivotal trip to South Africa in 2013, “Complexion” attempts to negate the antiquated notions of colorism with confidence, positivity, and a celebration of the beauty found in all women. In a surely calculated move, Kendrick chose a buoyant, danceable backdrop to support his message. More than most, Kendrick knows the intrinsic, persuasive power of a good beat.