Dilshan Weerasinghe holds an MA in Musicology from Dalhousie University. His research examines popular music, jazz, and hip-hop in relation to social and political topics.
Dilshan’s paper “We Gon’ Be Alright”: Racial Politics and Kendrick Lamar explores the expression of the experience of poverty, anti-establishment politics, and the diverse, complex narratives of black identity in Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Such topics are typically associated with what has been labelled as “conscious” rap – characterized not just by its lyrical subject matter of socially relevant topics, but musically through jazz. As Dilshan suggests, historically, jazz in rap has been associated with at east coast, “boom-bap” style sound, whereas west coast hip-hop’s flashy, bass-heavy sound takes more from funk than jazz.
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