Author Identifiers

Colin Outhwaite
ORCID: 0000-0002-0496-251X

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Music (Honours)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Clint Bracknell


Popular music often refers to, evokes and includes elements of other music from the past. This kind of intertextuality in popular music provides artists and audiences with short-cuts to making and interpreting meaning. It draws on nostalgia, past listening experiences and idealised perceptions of the past. Artists engaging in this practice risk criticism for being too derivative. Conversely, artists who are too innovative and forward-looking run the risk of not connecting to listeners. Kendrick Lamar’s hip-hop album of 2015 To Pimp A Butterfly is lauded as being simultaneously innovative and steeped in the recent history of African American music. Lamar accesses a broad range of styles and creative approaches to pay tribute to African American culture, borrowing and transforming references from past musical predecessors and recontextualising them to make meaningful statements for contemporary audiences. Through the identification and analysis of the network of intertextual references embedded within the first three tracks of To Pimp A Butterfly, this study aims to understand the significance of Lamar’s use and manipulation of intertextuality. In doing so, it will discuss the effectiveness of intertextuality as an increasingly prevalent creative practice in popular music.