Kendrick Lamar

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2016, file photo, Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Fresh off his Grammy triumph, Lamar has released a new batch of old music made available Friday, March 4. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

If you haven't gotten enough of Kendrick Lamar, a Grammy-winning rapper from Compton whose lyrical expressions explore racial and political subtexts, the Lawrence Arts Center along with the Department of African-American Studies will host a keynote and panel discussion on his impact on the wider scope of society on Thursday, March 24.

The event is entitled "Make it Funky V: Reflections on Kendrick Lamar" and will run from 7-9 p.m. A live performance by Kansas City Emcee Storm with the accompaniment of horns and a DJ will close out the discussion. A reception will follow the event's proceedings.

Tony Bolden, an associate professor in the Department of African and African-American Studies, will moderate the panel discussion.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Sequoia Maner, a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin who will use her knowledge of black artists and the hip-hop culture to incite discussion on how music can be a muse for social awareness. 

"I want people to walk out of 'Make It Funky V' with a deeper understanding of the significance of hip-hop as a form of communication, self-reflection, and most importantly, as a resource for tangible change," Maner said.

Maner, raised in Long Beach, Calif., connects deeply with Lamar's background and his insatiable need to open people's eyes to the fight of having your voice heard. 

"[I relate to] the struggle with depression and self-doubt, the use of innovation and creativity as transcendence, and the search for black consciousness. All of these things draw me to Kendrick Lamar's art," said Maner.

The social dialogue surrounding Lamar's work, focused on the narrative of equality and superficial hypocrisy — or as Maner explained it, "the exploitation and denigration of black people" — has grown exponentially since his album "To Pimp A Butterfly" of last year. Even his recently released encore to last year's album, "untitled unmastered," has opened an immediacy to the discussion of dissension like never before.

Nicole Hodges Persley, one of the night's panelists and an associate professor in the Department of Theatre, said she is excited to participate in Thursday's event and believes she will bring a unique voice to the table as she fully embraces this concurrence that can happen with society and art.

She is currently teaching a course surrounding hip-hop and has the opportunity to educate students on the immediate impacts of moments in hip-hop such as Kendrick Lamar's performance at the Grammy's this last February.

Persley said this sort of exposure to these issues opens the door for hip-hop to be viewed as "a platform for social critique." Persley also said Lamar is an artist that has depth and breadth with his work that paints pictures of society and what he sees as areas capable of change. 

"He's very explicit about that in his lyrics," Persley said of Lamar. "He knows it could have been a different path for him, and he's very much about using music as a way to enlighten young people on the possibilities of what they can become."

It is a breadth that is free-flowing yet poignant, a characteristic of what is in store for the event as well. As Maner puts it, this will allow the audience to have "deeper appreciation for the ways in which Lamar is a thoughtful and masterful technician of the craft, of the art of storytelling."

The event is free and open to the public. It will take place at the Lawrence Arts Center located at 940 New Hampshire St.

— Edited by Samantha Harms

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