Maybe it’s time we pray for Kendrick Lamar. On his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick undergoes a metamorphosis from self-loathing Compton rapper to self-loving global icon, a transformation he likens to caterpillar turned butterfly. It seemed to function as a blueprint for salvation, aimed especially at the African-American community navigating the racially charged strains of modern America. But rather than end Butterfly on the euphoria of the song “i,” Kendrick instead concludes with the epilogue “Mortal Man.” After spending the majority of the album questioning himself and the world around him, “Mortal Man” asks us, his listeners, to question ourselves, specifically the build-them-up watch-them-fall relationship we have with our leaders. He reminds us that however large his mythos has become, he’s human and he’ll need our loyalty when “shit hits the fan.” “Mortal Man” is a foreboding provocation, an insightful premonition about his future after th
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