PERFORMING ARTS

The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America

Atria. Oct. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781982107581. $27. MUSIC
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Rapper Kendrick Lamar proclaims, “Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me” on his album DAMN, but perhaps he should have met music journalist Moore, who worships at the seat of Lamar in this laudatory biography that positions the artist several times over as the “greatest” rapper of his generation, of all time, and so on. It’s not that Lamar is unworthy of praise. His accomplishments—he’s the first nonclassical or nonjazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize, and he’s racked up 13 Grammys—inspire awe. Perhaps no other musical artist of the 2010s has permeated the consciousness of America as thoroughly as Lamar. But Moore’s frequent designations and acclamation become tiresome. His more probing analysis comes when discussing the “soul of Black America”—he laments the murders of Black adults and children at the hands of racists and police, recounts the genesis of Black Lives Matter, and examines Lamar’s place in the movement.
VERDICT Fans will likely devour this title despite its problems, and the work has crossover appeal to young adult readers, who will be stirred by Lamar’s professional and personal journey. [See Prepub Alert, 4/15/20.]

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