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Our season long examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar continues with the album’s tenth track “Hood Politics.”

“Hood Politics” begins with a voicemail Kendrick receives from an old Compton friend. He calls out Kendrick for never answering his phone, dressing differently, and forgetting about his friends.

The voicemail triggers Kendrick’s survival’s guilt for escaping Compton. Earlier on the album, Kendrick was sent into a fit of manic depression by his survival’s guilt on the song “u.” On “Hood Politics,” Kendrick attempts to convince himself of the street credibility he’s earned as a youth in Compton, and how he’s remained true to his roots despite his success.

The song is divided into three verses that speak on varying politics: Verse one centers around hood politics, verse two talks of governmental politics, and verse three speaks on hip-hop politics. Kendrick chooses a high-pitched vocal inflection to express a kind of adolescent frustration with the world around him.

The contrast between the nostalgic, warm feelings of the previous song “Momma” and the anger and frustration on “Hood Politics” prove that Kendrick is still conflicted about his feelings for Compton. While “Momma” seemed like a step forward towards resolution, “Hood Politics” seems like a step back (albeit it a rather fun one), and we’re left in mystery about the path Kendrick will ultimately choose.

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