Kendrick Lamar Visited a New Jersey English Class to Discuss ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’
If you’re looking for another reason to admire Kendrick Lamar, here’s one: The rapper showed up at a New Jersey high school to discuss his latest album, To Pimp a Butterfly, which had become the subject of study for a freshman English class.
Brian Mooney, an English teacher and poetry club advisor at High Tech High School in North Bergen, N.J., wrote a blog detailing how he had incorporated Lamar’s third album into a lesson plan requiring students to use To Pimp a Butterfly as a means of critically analyzing Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Mooney’s experiment ended up going viral, leading him to then share his students’ resulting essays and even garnering the attention of Lamar himself.
After performing at Summer Jam in Rutherford, N.J., Lamar visited Mooney’s class this past Monday (June 8). Rather than simply leading a discussion on his album, Lamar participated in a dialogue with teachers and students alike -- a level relationship the rapper said was key.
“Something even bigger than mentoring is really listening,” Lamar told reporters (via Rolling Stone). “When I do that we have a little bit bigger connection than me being Kendrick Lamar and you being the student. It’s almost like we’re friends.”
Lamar also listened to the students’ poetry inspired by To Pimp a Butterfly, responding by praising their work and saying, “They got heart, they got intellect, they got punchlines.”
“I didn’t think I made [To Pimp a Butterfly] for 16-year-olds,” Lamar reflected. “I always get, like, my parents or an adult saying, ‘This is great, you have a message, you have themes, you have different genres of music.’ But to get a kid actually telling me this, it’s a different type of feeling, ‘cause it lets me know that their thought process is just as advanced as mine, even if I’m 10, 15 years older.”