Dissect

Dissect

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By Cole Cuchna | Spotify
Learn more about the albums you love with Dissect, a serialized music podcast from Cole Cuchna & Spotify Studios. Each season we pick one album, forensically dissecting one song per episode. Line-by-line, note-by-note, we learn more about the human experience through some of the greatest music ever made.

S3: Blonde by Frank Ocean
S2: MBDTF by Kanye West
S1: To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Available on 11 platforms
S3E17 - Godspeed + Futura Free by Frank Ocean
We dissect Blonde's closing tracks "Godspeed" and "Futura Free." You're gonna wanna listen to the end on this one.
42:47
September 18, 2018
S3E16 - Seigfried by Frank Ocean
We dissect "Seigfried" by Frank Ocean, a song expressing Frank's feelings of alienation and isolation, leading to an existential crisis. Season 3 merchandise is now available at dissectpodcast.com. Want to be featured on the Season 3 finale episode? Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter or Instagram for details.
39:35
September 11, 2018
S3E15 - White Ferrari by Frank Ocean
We dissect "White Ferrari" by Frank Ocean, an emotionally potent car ride through Frank's memories of a failed relationship. Season 3 merchandise is now available at dissectpodcast.com/merch Want to be featured on the Season 3 finale episode? Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter or Instagram for details.
27:48
September 4, 2018
S3E14 - Solo (Reprise), Pretty Sweet, Close to You by Frank Ocean
We dissect the first four tracks from Blonde's second half: "Solo (Reprise)" feat. Andre 3000, "Pretty Sweet," "Facebook Story," and "Close to You." Listen to Dissect on Spotify and get episodes a week before all other platforms and exclusive bonus episodes. Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
41:10
August 28, 2018
Coming Soon: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Mini-Series
In celebration of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’s 20th year anniversary, Dissect will be honoring this historic album with a special mini-series coming this Fall to Spotify.
01:00
August 24, 2018
S3E13 - Nights by Frank Ocean
We dissect "Nights" by Frank Ocean, a two-part odyssey whose iconic beat switch divides more than just the song's two halves. Listen to Dissect for free on Spotify and get episodes a week early plus exclusive access to bonus episodes. Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
38:53
August 21, 2018
S3E12 - Skyline To + Self Control by Frank Ocean
Today's special double episode dissects "Skyline To" and "Self Control" by Frank Ocean, two songs that reflect deeply on summer romance. Listen to Dissect on Spotify and get episodes a week early plus access to exclusive bonus episodes. Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
46:28
August 14, 2018
S3E11 - Solo by Frank Ocean
We dissect "Solo" by Frank Ocean, a series of narrative vignettes expounding on loneliness, freedom, and the heaven and hell within us all. Listen to Dissect on Spotify and get episodes a week early and access to exclusive bonus episodes. Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
41:51
August 7, 2018
S3E10 - Pink + White by Frank Ocean
We dissect "Pink + White" by Frank Ocean, a beautiful, mosaic-like remembrance of childhood. Listen to Dissect on Spotify and get episodes a week before all other platforms and exclusive bonus episodes. Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
30:55
July 31, 2018
S3E9 - Ivy by Frank Ocean
We continue our examination of Blonde by Frank Ocean with the heartbreaking song "Ivy." Listen to Dissect free on Spotify and get episodes a week early plus exclusive bonus episodes.
26:03
July 24, 2018
S3E8 - Nikes by Frank Ocean
Our season long examination of Blonde by Frank Ocean begins with its iconic opening track "Nikes." Listen to Dissect free on Spotify and receive episodes a week early plus exclusive bonus episodes.
31:26
July 17, 2018
BONUS - The Tricky Stewart Interview
In this bonus episode, Cole sits down with grammy-award winning producer/songwriter Tricky Stewart. Tricky is responsible for songs like "Single Ladies" by Beyonce and "Umbrella" by Rihanna. He also signed Frank Ocean to Def Jam in 2009 and helped Frank produce his debut mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra. For more bonus episodes, listen to Dissect on Spotify.
53:06
July 10, 2018
S3E7 - Channel Orange Recap + 4 Years Gone
We dissect the last three tracks from Frank Ocean's Channel Orange before drawing some overall conclusions about the album as a whole. Then we take a look at the events during the 4 years between Channel Orange and Frank's next albums Endless and Blonde. Listen to Dissect on Spotify for early access to episodes and exclusive bonus episodes.
39:47
July 3, 2018
S3E6 – Bad Religion by Frank Ocean
We dissect "Bad Religion" by Frank Ocean, a harrowing ballad expressing the torment of unrequited love.
32:37
June 26, 2018
S3E5 – Pyramids (Part 2) by Frank Ocean
We conclude our two part analysis of Frank Ocean’s contemporary masterwork "Pyramids."
22:43
June 19, 2018
S3E4 – Pyramids (Part 1) by Frank Ocean
We dissect Frank Ocean’s 10-minute masterwork “Pyramids” from Channel Orange. Part 1 of 2.
32:43
June 12, 2018
S3E3 – Super Rich Kids by Frank Ocean
Our serialized examination of Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE continues with “Super Rich Kids”, a tragic rumination on the effects of wealth disguised as a party anthem. Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
34:39
June 5, 2018
S3E2 – Thinking About You by Frank Ocean
Our serialized examination of the music of Frank Ocean continues with a look at the cultural impact of Frank’s open letter that revealed his sexuality days before the release of Channel Orange. Then we dissect Ocean’s biggest hit to date “Thinking About You.” Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
34:21
May 29, 2018
S3E1 – Frank Ocean: A Man of Art and Mystery
Season 3 of Dissect is dedicated entirely to the music of Frank Ocean. Today we begin with Ocean’s upbringing in New Orleans and his move to Los Angeles after Hurricane Katrina. We’ll then break down his landmark 2011 mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra. Dissect is a Spotify Original Podcast. Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
40:58
May 22, 2018
S2E16 – Season Finale: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Today, we conclude our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West. After a recap of the album’s narrative and themes, we’ll discuss those mysterious applause that conclude the album. We’ll talk about fame, art’s ability to inspire action in our lives, and hear Dissect listeners’ thoughts on Kanye West in a montage of listener submitted audio clips. It’s been a beautiful, life-changing season. Thank you, everyone. Purchase My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on iTunes. Support Dissect at Patreon.com/Dissect Follow Dissect @dissectpodcast on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.   Links to sources noted at
1:28:56
December 11, 2017
S2E15 – Lost in the World by Kanye West
We continue our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with the album’s final tracks “Lost in the World” and “Who Will Survive in America?” “Lost in the World” is a cathartic embrace of letting go, an anthem of ambiguity that finds Kanye reconciling the conflicting duality presented throughout the album. You can support Dissect at Patreon.com/dissect
41:46
November 28, 2017
S2E14 – Blame Game by Kanye West
Our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West continues with the penultimate track “Blame Game”. “Blame Game” finds Kanye attempting to decipher who’s at fault for his crumbling relationship and rapidly deteriorating life. Of course, we’ll also answer that timeless question: What exactly did Yeezy teach us? Support Dissect on Patreon.com/dissect
32:04
November 14, 2017
S2E13 – Hell of a Life by Kanye West
Our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy continues with “Hell of a Life”. Coming off the heels of the album’s emotional centerpiece “Runaway”, the explicit, porn-filled fantasy that is “Hell of a Life” couldn’t seem more thematically distant. But strangely, “Hell of a Life” is in many ways a journey toward self-acceptance. Kanye exposes the darkest recesses of his imagination, an honest assessment of his most private thoughts. And the more honest Kanye is about himself, the more alienated and shunned from the world he becomes. Listen to “Hell of a Life” on Apple Music.
35:33
November 7, 2017
Be Featured on S2 Finale Episode! + Bonus Interview
Dissect needs YOUR voice! We’re featuring listener submitted audio clips on our upcoming Season 2 finale episode. Find submission instructions on our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (@dissectpodcast). It’s really easy. In lieu of a new episode today, we’re sharing an interview Cole did with the It’s All Dead podcast. They discuss the origins of Dissect, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, concept albums, empathy, and more. Dissect will be back with a new episode next week. Thanks for your patience. Support Dissect at Patreon.com/dissect
37:07
October 31, 2017
S2E12 – Runaway by Kanye West (Part 2)
We continue our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West with Part 2 of our “Runaway” double-episode. After an examination of Pusha T’s “we need more douchebag” verse, we discover how the instrumental outro reorchestrates the song’s first six minutes with just cellos and piano. We make a slight detour to talk Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Greek Mythology, Order, Chaos, and more — all to better understand why we find Kanye’s wordless concluding solo so moving. Finally, we look at Runaway’s premiere at the 2010 VMAs, a career-defining moment for a victorious Kanye West. Listen to “Runaway” on Apple Podcasts. Support Dissect at Patreon.com/Dissect. Photo: DON
36:36
October 24, 2017
S2E11 – Runaway by Kanye West (Part 1)
Our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West continues with a Part 1 of our double episode on the album’s nine-minute emotional centerpiece “Runaway“. According to Runaway’s co-producer Emile Haynie, Kanye conceptualized “Runaway” in just four minutes. We dissect the iconic opening piano line, examining its conscious use of overtones and rhythmic deception. After deconstructing the song’s beat, we turn to its lyrics and Kanye’s
35:51
October 17, 2017
S2E10 – Devil in a New Dress by Kanye West
Our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West continues with fan favorite “Devil in a New Dress.” “Devil in a New Dress” is an impressionistic glimpse into Kanye’s failed relationship with a woman he names his “sin-sation.” The song is built on dichotomy: love and lust, heaven and hell, authenticity and deception. We’ll hear this thematically in the song’s lyrics, but also tonally in the song’s unresolved, contrasting chord structure. At the conclusion of our episode, we’ll display how the song’s abrupt ending sets up the album’s next track “Runaway.” Things take an unexpected turn we realize how inexorably linked the two tracks are both thematically and tonally.
41:08
October 10, 2017
S2E9 – So Appalled by Kanye West
Today we continue our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West with the album’s seventh track “So Appalled“. “So Appalled” features Jay-Z, Pusha T, CyHi The Prynce, Swizz Beats, and The RZA. In many ways, the track represents the “art by committee” approach to Twisted Fantasy, and we open today’s episode detailing the work environment during the album’s creation. We’ll also briefly explore the history of the “posse cut” in hip-hop before diving into our extensive analysis of “So Appalled,” a track that sees each guest MC expounding about the ridiculousness of the successful life they live. This
35:12
October 3, 2017
S2E8 – Monster by Kanye West
We continue our serialized analysis of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West with the album’s next track “Monster”. “Monster” is an exemplary model of musical cohesion. Everything about the track contributes to its monstrous theme. The production rumbles and shakes with a persistent, driving low end and minimal treble. There’s use of multiple sound effects, including literal monster roars, screams, and detuned voices. Kanye also selects guest artists and coaxes them to staying on theme: Justin Vernon’s distorted, sinster introduction, Rick Ross’s grisly, monstrous voice, Jay-Z’s clever wordplay, and of course, Nicki Minaj’s alter-ego invested verse, which many argue to be the best verse of the entire decade.
33:41
September 26, 2017
Kanye’s Cry for Help
This is a story about empathy disguised as a story about Kanye West. Last year around this time, Kanye took stage at the Golden One Center in Sacramento, CA. After three songs and a fifteen-minute rant, Kanye dropped the mic and canceled the show. Shortly after, he canceled the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour dates and was checked into a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. I attended the now infamous Kanye Sacramento concert. In lieu of a new episode today, I’m sharing with you a piece I wrote a few days after this experience. I believe its message still rings true today, perhaps even more so. If you’d like to support Dissect, visit patreon.com/dissect Photo: Solace
15:11
September 19, 2017
S2E7 – All of the Lights by Kanye West
We continue our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West with the album’s fifth track “All of the Lights.” “All of the Lights” and it’s fourteen high-profile guest vocalists is the kind of decadence that borders on excessive indulgence like the terrible feeling you get after eating too much cake. This kind of problematic indulgence is an inherent quality of celebrity, and “All of the Lights” is calculated overstimulation, a sensory overload aimed to express the strung-outed-ness of a life lived beneath a perpetual spotlight. Structurally, “All of the Lights” acts as a bridge into another world. While there’s been moments of fantasy in the album’s first three songs, on “All of the Lights” we hear for the first time an elaborate fantasy world created th
32:42
September 12, 2017
S2E6 – Power by Kanye West
Our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West continues with the album’s third song “Power.” From its meticulous, heterogeneous production to its tightly wound lyricism and complex, metaphoric thematic content, “Power” is a detailed, intricately chiseled marble statue approach to songwriting. Kanye simultaneously explores power both as a concept in and of itself, as well as its personal affects on his life and mind. It’s something Kanye clearly struggles with. He’s smart enough to recognize power’s ability to deteriorate his spirit, but also recognizes his own inability to let it go. Listen to “Power” by Kanye West on Apple Music. If you en
42:38
September 5, 2017
S2E5 – Gorgeous by Kanye West
We continue our serialized examination of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West with the album’s second track “Gorgeous.” “Gorgeous” is undoubtedly one of Kanye’s strongest displays as lyricist and rapper. There’s nary a wasted word on “Gorgeous” as Kanye seamlessly weaves cheeky pop culture references with poignant racial anecdotes and self-empowering affirmations. It’s a blueprint to atonement, to overcoming uncontrollable forces with sheer grit, determination, and self-assurance. Kanye seems less concerned with how to end racism and more concerned with how to overcome it, how to do great things in spite of it. Layers of emotional and psychological complexity are added when we consider the song’s hook, an observation on Kanye’s psyche after the VMA backlash. It subtly reveals that
37:10
August 29, 2017
S2E4 – Dark Fantasy by Kanye West
We begin our serialized examination of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with the album’s opening track “Dark Fantasy.” From its opening moments, “Dark Fantasy” establishes the sound, themes, and narrative that will be explored throughout My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Sonically, it consolidates Kanye’s entire musical palate and creative powers developed over his first four solo albums. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of soul, hip-hop, RnB, classical, and gospel, at once seamless and juxtaposed, and utterly grandiose. Lyrically, we find Kanye at perhaps his most economical. Woven within just two compact verses and a brief bridge, Kanye establishes a complex character who appears confident and living a luxurious life of fame and fortune. But veiled beneath the surface is a strugg
33:36
August 22, 2017
S2E3 – The Old Kanye
We continue our serialized examination of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with third and final installment of our introductory episodes. Our job today is frankly impossible. We’re going to cover the four masterful albums by Kanye West in just under forty minutes, a borderline audacious premise for a show about in-depth analysis. But we must remember the larger goal: to provide context, to get a basic understanding of the trajectory of Kanye’s musical output and success. We’ll cherry-pick a song or two from each album that’s representative of Kanye’s production and lyrical subject matter at that particular time, gaining a broad sense of the evolution of Kanye’s art leading up to our main course, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Listen to Kanye’s discography on Apple Music. If you enjoy Dissect, consider dropping a review on
42:58
August 15, 2017
S2E2 – Through the Wire by Kanye West
Our serialized analysis of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy continues with part two of our three part introductory preface. On our last episode, we followed the artistically gifted and confident young Kanye West as he ascended up hip-hop’s totem pole through his uncanny work ethic, unmatched determination, and unique production style. On October 23rd, 2002, just two weeks after his deal with Roc-A-Fella Records was announced, Kanye fell asleep at the wheel and collided headfirst with an oncoming car, breaking his jaw in three places. Just two weeks after his accident, and with his mouth still wired shut, Kanye would record “Through the Wire,” the song that would ultimately launch his rap career. On today’s episode, we dissect “Through the Wire” as an example of Kanye’s early pro
30:00
August 8, 2017
S2E1 – Kanye West: The Elephant in the Room
Dissect is back! Season 2 of Dissect is dedicated entirely to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an aural pageantry of West’s uncanny talents as producer and rapper, a sonic amalgamation of the four solo albums that precede it. It’s thirteen tracks are ambitiously scaled, a musical maximalism as yet unheard in the world of hip-hop. Within this sonic coliseum, Kanye bares the confliction between his ego and insecurity, between the purity of his creative gifts and his incessant need for adoration. The album’s loose narrative outlines Kanye’s rise and fall from public grace, a kaleidoscopic meandering into the deep recesses of his mind, his fantasies. One moment he’s brash and confident, the next he’s vulnerable and lost. Our first three episodes this season will serve as a preface to Tw
35:20
August 1, 2017
Pray for Kendrick Lamar: DAMN. Opening Remarks
Maybe it’s time we pray for Kendrick Lamar. On his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick undergoes a metamorphosis from self-loathing Compton rapper to self-loving global icon, a transformation he likens to caterpillar turned butterfly. It seemed to function as a blueprint for salvation, aimed especially at the African-American community navigating the racially charged strains of modern America. But rather than end Butterfly on the euphoria of the song “i,” Kendrick instead concludes with the epilogue “Mortal Man.” After spending the majority of the album questioning himself and the world around him, “Mortal Man” asks us, his listeners, to question ourselves, specifically the build-them-up watch-them-fall relationship we have with our leaders. He reminds us that however large his mythos has become, he’s human and he’ll need our loyalty when “shit hits the fan.” “Mortal Man” is a foreboding provocation, an insightful premonition about his future after th
18:23
April 20, 2017
S1E22 – S1 Finale: To Pimp a Butterfly
Our season long examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar concludes with our final thoughts on the album. After a broad overview of the album and breakdown of the concluding poem, we’ll dissect the central “contrasting duality” theme, the album title and cover art. We’ll then hand the mic over to you, the listeners, in an audio montage compiled from the submission you sent sharing your biggest takeaway from the album. If you want to keep in touch over the season break, sign-up for our newsletter at dissectpodcast.com.   If you’ve enjoyed Dissect this season, please rate and review Dissect on iTunes.
1:10:12
February 7, 2017
S1E21 – Mortal Man (Part 2) by Kendrick Lamar
We continue our serialized examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar with Part 2 of the album’s final song “Mortal Man.” On our last episode, we heard how the song “Mortal Man” questioned Kendrick’s new leadership role and loyalty of his fanbase. At the end of the song, the narrative poem returns and is finally read in full. It’s revealed that the poem was being read to none other than deceased rapper Tupac Shakur. What follows is a metaphysical conversation between the two as Kendrick asks Pac for advice on both his own personal situation and the state of our nation. On today’s episode, we dive deep into Pac’s conflicted legacy and his eerie conversation with Kendrick. If like what you hear, consider subscribing and rating Dissect on iTunes. It really helps.
46:52
January 31, 2017
S1E20 – Mortal Man (Part 1) by Kendrick Lamar
We continue our serialized examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar with album’s final song “Mortal Man.” Kendrick reached the narrative conclusion of To Pimp a Butterfly with the live performance of the song “i” in his hometown of Compton. In a full circle moment, Kendrick embodied the leadership role he was so reluctant to embrace. Through the power of music, the spoken word, and a message of self-love and acceptance, Kendrick ended a fight in the crowd, a metaphor for black-on-black violence and gang conflicts in inner cities like Compton. Thus far on To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick has held a mirror to himself, analyzing his new place in the world of celebrity and success outside the streets of Compton, the only life he knew for twenty plus years. Now, having shared his story, Kendrick will turn that mirror around on us, the listeners. Mortal Man is the epilogue of To Pimp a Butterfly. An epilogue is a section or speech at the end of a
29:45
January 24, 2017
S1E19 – i (Part 2) by Kendrick Lamar
We continue our serialized analysis of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar with Part 2 of the album’s fifteenth track, “i.” “i” is the narrative conclusion of To Pimp a Butterfly, the apex of Kendrick’s teachings on self-love and self-acceptance. While the studio single version of “I” we examined in our last episode could’ve easily acted as the album’s narrative climax, Kendrick chose instead to use a staged “live performance” on the album. For those of us that were familiar with the studio single, hearing of the live version was at first a somewhat jarring experience. Of course, Kendrick knew this would happen. His using a live version is a strategic, self-referential appropriation, the reasons for which become clear when the performance comes to a halt after a fight breaks out in the crowd, and Kendrick recites a spoken word piece that puts an end to the scuffle. The statement “Kendrick Lamar, by far, the realest negus alive” at the end of the spoken word piece is
38:00
January 17, 2017
S1E18 – i (Part 1) by Kendrick Lamar
We continue our serialized examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar with the album’s fifteenth track, “i.” “i” is the narrative conclusion of To Pimp a Butterfly, the apex of Kendrick’s teachings on self-love and self-acceptance. Written for his incarcerated friends and suicidal kids he meets on tour, “i” was released as the album’s first single six months prior to the full release of To Pimp a Butterfly. This early version, which we’ll refer to as the “studio version,” does not appear on the album. Instead, a live performance of “i” is used. Because Kendrick uses “i” self-referentially as a climactic narrative tool, we’re going to first use the studio version to examine the song’s thematic content. In Part 2, we’ll cross-examine the live version as it appears on the album. Kendrick’s vocal inflection throughout “i” is soft, child-like, and unassuming. Like the song’s “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” and “You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said),” there’s a calculated s
28:57
January 13, 2017
S1E17 – You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said) by Kendrick Lamar
We continue our serialized examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar with the album’s fourteenth track “You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said).” We’re currently in the midst of the album’s fourth act, which we’ve titled “The Butterfly Sheds Light.”  Having embraced his leadership role after his experience in South Africa, Kendrick is providing his community with a series of easily understandable and relatable songs focused on self-acceptance. On “You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said),” Kendrick exposes the fabricated behavior of the members of his community who attempt to act in accordance to some ill-conceived notion of “cool” to fit in. His message for them is simple: be yourself, love yourself, and love those around you. If you enjoy what you hear, subscribe and rate Dissect on iTunes. It really helps.    
23:21
January 3, 2017
S1E16 – The Blacker the Berry (Part 2) by Kendrick Lamar
Our season long analysis of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar continues with part two of the album’s thirteenth track “The Blacker the Berry.” The song was the album’s second single and released amidst the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s incredibly potent, packed with references to the historic oppression of the black community, race relations in contemporary American society, police brutality, the US penitentiary system, and the complexities of black identity, among many others. Central to “The Blacker the Berry” is an idea known as “double-consciousness.” Coined by writer W.E.B. Du Bois, double-consciousness describes the internal conflict experienced by the oppressed groups living in an oppressive society (see: black people in white America). Du Bois argued that attempting to reconcile your African heritage while being raised in a white European-dominated society posed psychological challenges. In
28:09
December 20, 2016
S1E15 – The Blacker the Berry (Part 1) by Kendrick Lamar
Our season long analysis of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar continues with the album’s thirteenth track “The Blacker the Berry.” The song was the album’s second single and released amidst the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s incredibly potent, packed with references to the historic oppression of the black community, race relations in contemporary American society, police brutality, the US penitentiary system, and the complexities of black identity, among many others. Central to “The Blacker the Berry” is an idea known as “double-consciousness.” Coined by writer W.E.B. Du Bois, double-consciousness describes the internal conflict experienced by the oppressed groups living in an oppressive society (see: black people in white America). Du Bois argued that attempting to reconcile your African heritage while being raised in a white European-dominated society posed psychological challenges. In his book The
31:23
December 13, 2016
S1E14 – Complexion (A Zulu Love) by Kendrick Lamar
We continue our season long analysis of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar with the album’s twelfth track “Complexion (A Zulu Love).” After battling depression, survival’s guilt, temptation, selfishness, and suicidal thoughts, Kendrick was humbled by an encounter with god on the album’s previous track “How Much a Dollar Cost?” Kendrick’s repentance represents the album’s axis point and signals the beginning of Act 4, which I’ve titled “The Butterfly Sheds Light.” Having been humbled by god, Kendrick will embrace his leadership role, and become an advocate for the Compton’s of the world. Over the next four tracks, Kendrick will speak directly to the black community and preach a message of unity, love of self, and independence. Kendrick’s first order of business will be to address colorism and black beauty on “Complexion (A Zulu Love).” Inspired by his pivotal trip to South Africa in 2013, “Complexion” attempts to negat
31:18
December 6, 2016
S1E13 – How Much a Dollar Cost? by Kendrick Lamar
Our season long examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly continues with the album’s eleventh track, “How Much a Dollar Cost?” Plagued by Uncle Sam (the American Dream) and Lucy (temptation), Kendrick has stood at a metaphoric crossroads for most of the album, deciding whether to use or pimp his talent for good or evil. “How Much a Dollar Cost?” will force Kendrick’s hand. The song tells a story of Kendrick’s encounter with a homeless man in a gas station in South Africa. The man asks Kendrick for a dollar, which he refuses due to his selfishness. The homeless man reveals himself as god in the final line of the song, and as it turns out, the cost of a dollar was Kendrick’s spot in heaven. Upon this discovery, Kendrick is humbled, asks for forgiveness, and it set on a path of righteousness. And while Kendrick’s spot in heaven was the answer to the question of “How Much a Dollar Cost?”, we can a
32:03
November 22, 2016
S1E12 – Hood Politics by Kendrick Lamar
Our season long examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar continues with the album’s tenth track “Hood Politics.” “Hood Politics” begins with a voicemail Kendrick receives from an old Compton friend. He calls out Kendrick for never answering his phone, dressing differently, and forgetting about his friends. The voicemail triggers Kendrick’s survival’s guilt for escaping Compton. Earlier on the album, Kendrick was sent into a fit of manic depression by his survival’s guilt on the song “u.” On “Hood Politics,” Kendrick attempts to convince himself of the street credibility he’s earned as a youth in Compton, and how he’s remained true to his roots despite his success. The song is divided into three verses that speak on varying politics: Verse one centers around hood politics, verse two talks of governmental politics, and verse three speaks on hip-hop politics. Kendrick chooses a high-pitched voc
30:30
November 15, 2016
S1E11 – Momma by Kendrick Lamar
Our season long examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar continues with the album’s ninth track “Momma.” On “Momma,” Kendrick returns home to Compton for the second time on the album. On his first return, he gloated about his success and status on the song “King Kunta.” This time around Kendrick shows signs of maturation. He’s reflective, nostalgic. Having been through the trauma of “u” and the hypnotic seduction of “For Sale?,” home is now a place of grounding comfort that helps Kendrick in his search for clarity and contentment. On verse three, Kendrick returns to another, more metaphoric home: Africa. He recounts an experience in South Africa in which he feels an inert kinship with a boy there. It forces Kendrick to reconsider his entire identity and sends him spinning into an existential crisis that’s reflected in the song’s abstract outro. By its conclusion, “Mom
29:54
November 8, 2016
S1E10 – For Sale? by Kendrick Lamar
Our season long examination of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar continues with the album’s eighth song “For Sale? (Interlude).” Whereas the album’s second track “For Free?” was an external reaction to the seductive lures of Uncle Sam, the American Dream incarnate, “For Sale?” is the internal reaction to seductive lures of Lucy, the Devil incarnate. The contrast of “For Free?” and “For Sale?” starts to reveal the intricacies of the album’s overall narrative structure. While we’ve seen examples of the contrasting duality theme on a small scale in individual songs, we’ll now begin to see it appear in large scale between entire songs. “For Sale?” takes place in Kendrick’s subconscious while he dreams. The majority of the song is told from the perspective of Lucy as she recounts the first time her and Kendrick met. It turns out, Lucy and Uncle Sam have a lot in
25:31
November 1, 2016
S1E9 – Alright by Kendrick Lamar
We continue our serialized examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly with the album’s next track “Alright.” In the context of the album’s narrative, “Alright” takes place the morning after the drunken confession heard on the previous song “u.” After a therapeutic confrontation of his demons, it seems Kendrick has awoken with a more optimistic outlook and seems determined to overcome his anxieties. Outside of the album, “Alright” has been adopted as an unofficial anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement. The song’s simple message of hope through solidarity and resilience has struck a chord with supporters of the movement, and the refrain “we gon be alright” has been heard chanted at protests and rallies across the country. While Black Lives Matter is an ongoing movement, let’s think back to the time of To Pimp a Butterfly’s release in March 2015. Just three months prior, the decision not to indict the officer who kil
34:04
October 11, 2016
S1E8 – u by Kendrick Lamar
We continue our serialized examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly with the album’s next track “u.” “u” is the album’s emotional rock bottom. It’s one of the most gripping, emotionally vulnerable records in hip-hop. It’s a confrontation of inner demons and insecurities told with an honesty rarely found in the genre. If forced, I’d have to say “u” is my favorite song on To Pimp a Butterfly. From the unique production and musicianship, the metaphoric division of the song’s structure, the foley sounds of clinking bottles, and the moving execution of its heart-wrenching lyrics, “u” is a crowning achievement on one of the best album’s of all time. Being a native of Sacramento, California, it’s an added bonus that the second half of “u” was produced by relatively unknown Sacramento musician Whoarei, who was found through his
27:40
October 4, 2016
S1E7 – These Walls by Kendrick Lamar
Dissect’s season-long analysis of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly continues with the album’s fifth track “These Walls.” On “These Walls,” Kendrick speaks of various metaphoric walls to express the confinements of vice. It interweaves a complex threesome between Kendrick, an unnamed woman, and an imprisoned man serving a life sentence. Each deals with their own personal set of constricting walls that work to prohibit personal progress. Upon first listen, “These Walls” is a similar experience to “King Kunta.” It’s so infectiously danceable and enjoyable that the intricacies of the story it tells is easily lost. But this only works to exemplify Kendrick’s extraordinary talent to craft radio-ready singles without sacrificing the album’s narrative or its ability to stand on its own under scrutiny. It’s only after thorough examination that one realizes its intricacies. “Thes
22:06
September 27, 2016
S1E6 – Institutionalized by Kendrick Lamar
Our season-long examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly continues with the album’s fourth track Institutionalized. After the introduction to the album’s ever-important narrative poem, Kendrick begins to unpack the complexities of his new life of stardom. It begins with Institutionalized, a bouncing, head-nodding track that details Kendrick’s frustrations with his Compton friends’ behavior at the BET awards. By naming the song Institutionalized, Kendrick alludes to broader issues that plague our country and manifest in the behavior of the impoverished and repressed population. Before dissecting this song, I believed minorities faced residual discrimination still resonating from our nation’s dark history. But until I researched institutional racism for this episode, I didn’t understand its complexities and
29:51
September 20, 2016
S1E5 – King Kunta by Kendrick Lamar
Dissect – A Serialized Music Podcast continues its season-long examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly with the album’s third track “King Kunta.” “King Kunta” is perhaps the album’s most unabashed tribute to the pervading funk influences throughout To Pimp A Butterfly. On its surface, King Kunta is boastful, heroic, prideful, and at times, vain. Upon further examination, however, we’ll realize there’s a deeper, contrasting message to the song’s calculated, overtly valiant air. We’ll also discover that “King Kunta” is the pinnacle of the album’s first act, which we’ve named Pimped by Consumption. If you’ve enjoyed Dissect so far, consider rating us on iTunes. It really helps.
25:16
September 13, 2016
S1E4 – For Free? by Kendrick Lamar
Dissect – A Serialized Music Podcast continues its season-long examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly with the album’s second track “For Free? (Interlude).” “For Free?” is a personal favorite of mine. It’s songs like this that separate Lamar from his contemporary hip-hop peers. He’s assembled some of the greatest living jazz musicians to back him a raucous, unapologetic critique of the American Dream expressed in a rapid-fire stream of consciousness. It takes extreme versatility in craft to execute a piece of music of this caliber while still operating within the sphere of popular culture. When I saw Kendrick perform an intimate show at the Fox Theatre in Oakland, he opened with this piece. And the crowd went nuts. Can we think about this for second? A theatre full of rowdy twenty-somethings went wild about a spoken word piece recited ove
20:41
September 6, 2016
S1E3 – Wesley’s Theory by Kendrick Lamar
We begin our season-long examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly with the album’s opening track, Wesley’s Theory. To Pimp a Butterfly is a concept album that documents Lamar’s journey from caterpillar to butterfly (metaphorically, of course). Wesley’s Theory introduces the album’s protagonist, Kendrick himself, a young, naive rapper that has achieved stardom and escaped from the cocoon of Compton. We also meet the album’s antagonist, Uncle Sam, who looks to exploit young Kendrick for profit. Through the lens of this song, we’ll cover topics like the American Dream in modern society, the origins of the phrase “40 Acres and a mule”, Dave Chapelle’s exit from his hit TV show, and Wesley Snipes’ tax evasion conviction. We’ll also examine how Wesley’s Theory is written cinematically and sets the stage for the narrative that unfolds throughout To Pimp a Butterfly. If you li
28:05
August 30, 2016
S1E2 – good kid, m.A.A.d. city by Kendrick Lamar
Dissect podcast continues its preface of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly with an overview of Lamar’s major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d. city. good kid, m.A.A.d. city spans one pivotal day in Lamar’s teenage upbringing in Compton, California. The album’s protagonist, Kendrick himself at age 16, is jumped by gangbangers in front of Sherene’s house, Kendrick’s girlfriend at the time. Kendrick and his friends retaliate, leaving one of Kendrick’s best friends dead in his arms. While debating whether to retaliate once again, Kendrick and his friends are approached by an old woman, who leads the children in the Sinner’s Prayer. This sets Kendrick on a new path, dedicating his life towards family, God, and music. Thematically, the album explores the idea of a good kid in a mad city and the ways in which one’s environment influences can taint the purity inherent in us all. He also battles  to reconcile his love and r
34:30
August 25, 2016
S1E1 – Compton, K Dot, and Kendrick Lamar
Episode 1 of Dissect examines Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp a Butterfly with the history of Compton, California and Lamar’s transformation from K Dot, a young mixtape rapper, to Kendrick Lamar, a true artist.
20:40
August 23, 2016
Introducing Dissect: A Serialized Music Podcast
We live in a world creating and consuming more content than ever before. Every minute of every day, the world generates nearly three million Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram photos, and over two hundred million e-mails. There’s a 24-hour news cycle, infinite blog posts, and an entire history of music that you can now stream instantly from your phone. We’ve quickly become a scrolling culture, hurriedly swiping through an infinite swath of content that seems to replenish without end. Dissect was created to counter this cultural shift. After too often feeling exhausted and unfulfilled from binging  my daily digital diet, I wanted to create a platform that forced me to think critically, not passively. I wanted to spend hours with one thing, not a few minutes with a zillion things. And I wanted to reward artists who, in the face of our new consumption habits, continue to craft their work with care, complexity and depth. And so, Dissect was born: a serialized musi
01:48
August 13, 2016
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