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We continue our serialized examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar with album’s final song “Mortal Man.”

Kendrick reached the narrative conclusion of To Pimp a Butterfly with the live performance of the song “i” in his hometown of Compton. In a full circle moment, Kendrick embodied the leadership role he was so reluctant to embrace. Through the power of music, the spoken word, and a message of self-love and acceptance, Kendrick ended a fight in the crowd, a metaphor for black-on-black violence and gang conflicts in inner cities like Compton.

Thus far on To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick has held a mirror to himself, analyzing his new place in the world of celebrity and success outside the streets of Compton, the only life he knew for twenty plus years. Now, having shared his story, Kendrick will turn that mirror around on us, the listeners.

Mortal Man is the epilogue of To Pimp a Butterfly. An epilogue is a section or speech at the end of a book or play that comments on or serves as conclusion to what has happened dramatically. Clocking in at over 13 minutes, Mortal Man is clearly divided into two parts, and we’re going to dedicate two episodes to unpacking it. Today, we’ll examine the song Mortal Man. On our next episode, we’ll dissect the extended dramatic skit that ends the album.

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