“good kid, m.A.A.d city: Kendrick Lamar’s Autoethnographic Narrative”
Kendrick Lamar, in characterizing good kid, m.A.A.d city as a “short story”, announces, in his second studio album, a public declaration: we, the listening audience, are not hearing another hip-hop album, another autobiography, but something else, we are hearing a mixture of social, cultural and the personal in what will be termed the “autoethnographic”. That is, in addition to a personal declaration, Kendrick offers us a new way to think about hip-hop as a whole, not simply as a capitalistic enterprise, nor merely as a “black news” channel, but as a distinct method for collecting data and understanding the experiences and existence of black people that can be used to understand not only urban Americans, but non-normative persons of color the world over. Along with Kendrick Lamar’s album, I will be analyzing Richard Wright’s Black Boy and his Native Son character, “Bigger Thomas” as textural transcript, which can be mined for methodological purposes. Lamar’s text, along with Wright’s “Black Boy” and Bigger Thomas, can be read beyond the(ir) individual’s narrative, but rather for its [their] collective, auto-ethnographic narrative. Utilizing autoethnographic method, this essay brings together epistemological, ontological, and ethical concerns within sociology of knowledge and phenomenology, operating as both a way of understanding reality and an expression of reality.
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