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Our season-long examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly continues with the album’s fourth track Institutionalized.

After the introduction to the album’s ever-important narrative poem, Kendrick begins to unpack the complexities of his new life of stardom. It begins with Institutionalized, a bouncing, head-nodding track that details Kendrick’s frustrations with his Compton friends’ behavior at the BET awards.

By naming the song Institutionalized, Kendrick alludes to broader issues that plague our country and manifest in the behavior of the impoverished and repressed population. Before dissecting this song, I believed minorities faced residual discrimination still resonating from our nation’s dark history. But until I researched institutional racism for this episode, I didn’t understand its complexities and how deeply rooted racism still is within our institutions. It was like uncovering a hidden world that exists in plain sight, obvious to those it effects on a daily basis, but veiled to those it doesn’t.

The fact that I learned more about institutional racism through a contemporary hip-hop album than my college level education speaks on the potential influence music can have as cultural commentary. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the recent trend of athletes, musicians, and entertainers using their influence to shed light on social issues is evidence that perhaps many celebrities are more aware of the potential of their platforms.

This episode of Dissect is a favorite of mine. If you enjoy what you hear, consider rating Dissect on iTunes.

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