Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn.” Is an Exploration of Piety and Penance Through Prose

Kendrick, like many of us, is just trying to figure it all out.

Something that I’ve often found intriguing and admirable about Kendrick Lamar’s sonic output is the way that he delves into his faith and spirituality. While many rappers have a tendency of thanking a higher source at the pulpit of award shows or over beats when they’re claiming to be anointed by admonishing lyrical foes and haters or relishing in their recently acquired material trappings, you have an emcee like Kendrick who offers a different take on being in a divine light.

Over undulating beats that often match the complexity of his prose, Kendrick flays himself on each of his releases and presents his audience with a vulnerability and sense of introspection uncommon or not as prevalent in the arena of rap. He seems to be in the midst of a constant tussle with his troubled past, what it means to his current run of success and all that comes with it, and how this all is an ever-present test of his faith. Kendrick is an embattled soul tasked with sorting out a litany of grievances all while being heralded as a savior.

I imagine that, for Kendrick, the recitation of his catalog can be likened to the flagellation commonly seen throughout antiquity; a painful means of exhibiting piety that doubles as atonement. Kendrick may not be the only artist doing this, but there aren’t many of his stature and ilk that take to their craft in the manner that he does. His effervescent delivery, storytelling, and rumination is teeming in ecclesiasticism but never feels like the words of a zealot being shouted from an altar. He like many of us is trying to traverse a righteous path, figuring it out along the way.

Check out Kendrick’s DAMN. via iTunes or Spotify.

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