- Michael Shields
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Sequoia Maner, Assistant Professor of English at Spelman College. She is author of the poetry collection Little Girl Blue (2021) and co-editor of the book Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era (2020). Her poem “upon reading the autopsy of Sandra Bland” was a finalist for the 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize. Her essays, poems, and reviews can be found in venues such as Meridians, Obsidian, The Langston Hughes Review, The Feminist Wire, Auburn Avenue, and elsewhere. Sequoia is also the author of the 33 ⅓ book dedicated to Kendrick Lamar’s seminal album To Pimp a Butterfly, which is the focus of this episode. Breaking the global record for streams in a single day, nearly 10 million people around the world tuned in to hear Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album in the hours after its release. To Pimp a Butterfly was widely hailed as an instant classic, garnering laudatory album reviews, many awards, and even a canonized place in Harvard’s W. E. B. Du Bois archive. Sequoia’s book takes a deep dive into the sounds, images, and lyrics of To Pimp a Butterfly to suggest that Kendrick appeals to the psyche of a nation in crisis and embraces the development of a radical political conscience. Kendrick breathes fresh life into the Black musical protest tradition and cultivates a platform for loving resistance. Combining funk, jazz, and spoken word, To Pimp a Butterfly‘s expansive sonic and lyrical geography brings a high level of innovation to rap music. Kendrick’s introspective and philosophical songs found on this brilliant work of art launched him into another stratosphere of stardom and influence. In this episode, host Michael Shields and Sequoia Maner explore how a trip to South Africa, and the great Tupac Shakur, inspired the themes and soundscapes of To Pimp a Butterfly. They discuss the impact the empowering track “Alright” had on the protest movement and Black Lives Matter, the collaborative effort it took to bring such a complex album to life, and so much more.
Grab a copy of Sequoia Maner’s To Pimp a Butterfly 33 ⅓ here!
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