Kendrick Lamar

Why is pop music the people's poetry? That's what they like

Why is pop music the people's poetry? That's what they like

Poems top the Billboard Hot 100: This week, Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” wrested the No. 1 spot from Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.” The two songs are a study in pop contrasts. On “Humble,” Lamar is confrontational and uncompromising. On “That’s What I Like,” Mars is playful, even silly. Despite their vast differences in tone, however, both songs are poetry.

Say the word “poetry” and many people will think of lilting cadence and singsong verse. Perhaps they will call to mind the love sonnets of William Shakespeare, or the fractured images of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.” But poets today have mostly abandoned those patterns for something more esoteric. They’ve left it to...

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