Back in March, New Jersey high-school English teacher Brian Mooney published a popular essay on his personal blog about his plans to teach Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly to his students. Since then, both that and a follow-up post featuring essays by his students in response to the album have caught the attention of Lamar himself. Following his Summer Jam performance on Sunday, Lamar paid Mooney’s class at High Tech High School in North Bergen a visit on Monday to hear their work in person. As Rolling Stone reports, Kendrick hosted a slam-poetry-style session with the students, during which they read their essays, participated in a Q&A with the rapper, and listened to him freestyle. “I didn’t think I made [To Pimp a Butterfly] for 16-year-olds,” Kendrick said. “I always get, like, my parents or an adult saying, ‘This is great, you have a message, you have themes, you have different genres of music.’ But to get a kid actually telling me this, it’s a different type of feeling, ‘cause it lets me know that their thought process is just as advanced as mine, even if I’m 10, 15 years older.” Is this the first step to Kendrick Lamar becoming the musician cool teachers use to trick their students into learning about poetry? Sorry, Bob Dylan.
Professor Kendrick. Photo: Raymond Hagans/MediaPunch/Mediapunch/Corbis