A visual guide to the song "The Blacker The Berry"




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Kendrick Lamar is a rapper who is known for his socially conscious music about racial injustice in America. Some people miss his message because of the stereotypes surrounding rappers and hip hop, while other listeners are aware of his message, but find it too difficult to connect his lyrics to their historical and social contexts.

This book breaks down one song, "The Blacker The Berry" from Kendrick's critically acclaimed album To Pimp A Butterfly. Through factual analysis, this project uncovers social themes and provides historical and contemporary context to deepen understanding and empathy about racial injustice in America.

Listen to the song on Spotify or Apple Music.

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The Blacker The Berry is the 13th song on the album, alluding to the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.


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The book covers a wide variety of topics about racial injustice including but not limited to slavery, mass incarceration, police brutality, cultural appropriation, and white supremacy. These topics are explored through factual analysis and photographic collages that were originally hand cut.

The book is printed in black and white on satin text weight paper, and the cover is foil stamped on black cardstock.

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This book would not be possible without the support of our Kickstarter backers.


This book began as a student project at the University of Cincinnati, and then became a Kickstarter project. It would not be possible to sell this book without the amazing support we received from our Kickstarter.


This book is a collaboration between Hannah Sellers & Cole Cuchna.

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Hannah Sellers is a designer from Chicago, IL. She studied graphic communication design at the University of Cincinnati, College of DAAP for five years. In this time she fostered a passion for social justice, with specific focuses on intersectional feminism and awareness about racial injustice.

She also has a passion for hip hop and its unique connection to social justice. She hopes to continue to share this passion with others, since many are not aware of the powerful relationship between the two.

She decided to tackle this subject for her senior capstone after a revelatory moment with Kendrick Lamar’s music and purpose as an artist. She felt a strong desire to elevate his words such that other people could take away information and have an emotional experience with his music. She hopes that through this collaboration with Cole and Dissect, that other people can discover newfound empathy and learn more about the black experience in America through Kendrick’s lens. See more of her work at hannahcsellers.com.



Cole Cuchna attended California State University of Sacramento’s School of Music, graduating with honors in music composition. A lover of both classical and contemporary popular music, Cole lives in the intersection between two similar, but often very disparate musical worlds. Dissect, a serialized music analysis podcast, was created to bridge these worlds. 

By applying formal academic musical analysis techniques to contemporary popular works, Cole hopes to elevate genres traditionally unrecognized as fine or “high” art. He hopes to prove that a work like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly can hold its own among works like Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony. By choosing contemporary popular works like To Pimp a Butterfly, Cole wishes to build the trust of his listeners who show a strong interest in contemporary music. In later seasons, he wishes to flip the script and analyze classical works like, say, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, exposing those same listeners to musical works they’re likely to enjoy, but are otherwise unfamiliar with. Worlds divided no more. 

You can subscribe to Dissect on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. For more, visit dissectpodcast.com.