Kendrick Lamar's latest album "To Pimp A Butterfly" has received rave reviews from critics and has even served as inspiration for one high school English teacher.
During the recent school year, English teacher Brian Mooney’s applied the messages behind the lyrics into his daily curriculum, drawing parallels from Lamar’s album to Toni Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye.”
Mooney chronicled his classroom experience in a blog post, which just happened to catch the attention of Kendrick. It eventually led the Grammy Award-winner to make a surprise visit to Mooney's high school in North Bergen, N.J on June 8 where he performed one of his songs from the album, "Alright."
During an interview with NBC News, the Compton native shared his thoughts on how his album impacted Mooney’s freshman class.
“I didn’t think I made it for a 16-year-old. So when a 16-year-old is intrigued by it, it lets me know how so far in advance as a society we actually are. And that inspired me on a whole ‘nother level,” he said. “A lot of times we’re put in these positions where we don’t know we’re role models. And just off the simple fact -- whether we want to be a role model or not –- just the simple fact that we come from these Urban communities, these harsh worlds and we’re on TV and kids are looking at us, we’re already influence.”
“We influence their minds, we influence the way they talk, the way they dress,” he continued. “Every time I meet kids and they explain it to me what they got going on in life. I got to get out of my selfish ways of knowing that the music is not just about me anymore.”
Mooney seconded Kendrick, adding how he feels hip hop culture is a viable resource for teaching and learning in the classroom.
“One of the most important elements of hip hop is something called ‘knowledge of self,’ which a lot of hip hop historians will talk about. And that’s so educational,” Mooney told NBC News.
“That’s talking about identity. And so, it’s less of matter of using hip hop to trick kids into learning, but it’s more of an actual frame work for teaching and learning.”
Check out Kendrick Lamar’s visit to High Tech High School in the clip above.