Kendrick Lamar has established himself at the forefront of contemporary hip-hop culture. Artistically adventurous and socially conscious, he has been unapologetic in using his art form, rap music, to address issues affecting black lives while also exploring subjects fundamental to the human experience, such as religious belief. This book is the first to provide an interdisciplinary academic analysis of the impact of Lamar’s corpus. In doing so, it highlights how Lamar’s music reflects current tensions that are keenly felt when dealing with the subjects of race, religion and politics.
Starting with Section 80 and ending with DAMN., this book deals with each of Lamar’s four major projects in turn. A panel of academics, journalists and hip-hop practitioners show how religion, in particular black spiritualties, take a front-and-center role in his work. They also observe that his astute and biting thoughts on race and culture may come from an African American perspective, but many find something familiar in Lamar’s lyrical testimony across great chasms of social and geographical difference.
This sophisticated exploration of one of popular culture’s emerging icons reveals a complex and multi faceted engagement with religion, faith, race, art and culture. As such, it will be vital reading for anyone working in religious, African American and hip-hop studies, as well as scholars of music, media and popular culture.
Table of Contents
Introduction: K.Dotting the American Cultural Landscape with Black Meaning
Anthony B. Pinn and Christopher M. Driscoll
Part I: Section.80 (2011)
- Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80: Reagan Era Blues
- Can I be Both?: Blackness and the Negotiation of Binary Categories
- Hol’ Up: Post-Civil Rights Black Theology within Kendrick Lamar’s
- Sensibility in Section.80: Kendrick Lamar’s Poetics of Problems
- The Good, the m.A.A.d., and the Holy: Kendrick Lamar’s
- ‘Real is Responsibility’: Revelations in White through
- ‘Black Meaning’ Out of Urban Mud: good kid, m.A.A.d city
- Rap as Ragnarök: Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and the Value of Competition
- Can Dead Homies Speak? The Spirit and Flesh of Black Meaning
- Loving [You] is Complicated: Black Self-Love and Affirmation
- From ‘Blackness’ to Afrofuture to ‘Impasse’: The Figura
- Beyond Flight and Containment: Kendrick Lamar, Black Study,
- ‘Real Nigga Conditions’: Kendrick Lamar, Grotesque Realism,
- DAMNed to the Earth: Kendrick Lamar, De/colonial Violence,
- Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. as an Aesthetic Genealogy
- ‘I’m an Israelite’: Kendrick Lamar’s Spiritual Search,
- Damnation, Identity, and Truth: Vocabularies of Suffering
- Hebrew Israelite Covenantal Theology and Kendrick Lamar’s
in Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80
Margarita Simon Guillory
Daniel White Hodge
Michael L. Thomas
Part II: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012)
Meditations on Sin and Moral Agency in the Post-Gangsta Era
Juan M. Floyd-Thomas
the Filter of Black Realness on good kid, m.A.A.d. city
as Compton Griot-Riff at the Crossroads of Climate-Apocalypse
James W. Perkinson
Christopher M. Driscoll
Part III: To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
Monica R. Miller
in the Rap Music of Kendrick Lamar
Darrius D. Hills
of the Jimi Hendrix/Richie Havens Identity Revolution
as Faintly Evidenced by the work of Kendrick Lamar
and More than a Head Nod to Lupe Fiasco
and an Ethics of the Wound
Part IV: DAMN. (2017)
and the Open Body
Anthony B. Pinn
and Earthbound Salvation
Ben Lewellyn-Taylor and Melanie C. Jones
Hebrew Israelite Religion, and the Politics of Celebrity Encounter
in Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN.
André E. Key
Constructive Project in DAMN.
Conclusion: KENosis: The Meaning of Kendrick Lamar
Monica R. Miller
Christopher M. Driscoll is Assistant Professor of Religion, Africana, and American Studies at Lehigh University. Driscoll is also cofounder and former chair of the Critical Approaches to Hip Hop and Religion group at the American Academy of Religion. Much of his work attends to hip hop culture, including editing a 2011 special issue of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion on the topic, he is coauthor of Breaking Bread, Breaking Beats: Churches and Hip Hop – A Guide to Key Issues (Fortress, 2014), and more. Driscoll is also author of White Lies: Race & Uncertainty in the Twilight of American Religion (Routledge, 2015), and coauthor (with Monica R. Miller) of Method as Identity: Manufacturing Distance in the Academic Study of Religion (Lexington, 2018).
Monica R. Miller is Associate Professor of Religion, Africana Studies, and Director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Lehigh University, USA. Miller is the author of Religion and Hip Hop (Routledge, 2012), The Hip Hop and Religion Reader, coedited with Anthony B. Pinn (Routledge, 2014), Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain in the US, coedited with Anthony B. Pinn and Bernard "Bun B" Freeman (Bloomsbury, 2015), Claiming Identity in the Study of Religion: Social and Rhetorical Techniques Examined ed. (Equinox, 2016), and Humanism in a Non-Humanist World ed. (Palgrave Macmillan) among other books, numerous essays, and book chapters on the topic. Miller is cofounder and current cochair of the Critical Approaches to hip hop and Religion group at the American Academy of Religion and has presented nationally on the topic over the past ten years.
Anthony B. Pinn is Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is also the founding Director of Rice's Certer for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning. Pinn is also the Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies (Washington, DC). In addition to courses on African American religious thought, liberation theologies, and religious aesthetics, Pinn co-teaches with Bernard "Bun B" Freeman a popular course on religion and hip hop culture. The course received media coverage from a variety of outlets including MTV. He is the author/editor of over 30 books, including Noise and Spirit: Rap Music’s Religious and Spiritual Sensibilities (NYU Press, 2003); The Religion and Hip Hop Reader, coedited with Monica R. Miller (Routledge, 2014); and Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain in the US, coedited with Monica R. Miller and Bernard "Bun B" Freeman (Bloomsbury, 2015).