The internet has been enriched with thinkpieces, reviews, roundtable discussions, essays and so much more since the release of Kendrick Lamar‘s dense new album, DAMN. And it turns out Kendrick himself is reading them, too.
Last week DJBooth published a great piece comparing Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper’s differing approaches to God; where Chance’s Coloring Book focused on the blessings and glory of God almighty, Kendrick’s new album raises questions, concerns and challenges. Kendrick himself responded to the article by sending a long message to the website, delving into more detail about the topic. It provides a great deal of insight into truly understanding DAMN.
Kendrick begins by talking about how he was “appalled” by a local church service only focused on the positive side of God: “Praise, dance. Worship. (Which is beautiful.) … The idea of hope.”
“As a child, I always felt this Sermon had an emptiness about it. Kinda one sided, in what I felt in my heart. Fast forward. After being heavily in my studies these past few years, I’ve finally figured out why I left those services feeling spiritually unsatisfied as a child. I discovered more truth. But simple truth. Our God is a loving God. Yes. He’s a merciful God. Yes. But he’s even more so a God of DISCIPLE. OBEDIENCE. A JEALOUS God. And for every conscious choice of sin, will be corrected through his discipline.” Kendrick goes on to explain that this could happen through physical, mental, direct or indirect affliction and suffering.
“As a community, we was taught to pray for our mishaps, and he’ll forgive you. Yes, this is true. But he will also reprimand us as well.”
Kendrick doesn’t remember ever hearing this side to God in church as a child. “Maybe leaders of the church knew it will run off churchgoers?” he asks. “No one wants to hear about karma from the decisions they make. It’s a hard truth. We want to hear about hope, salvation, and redemption.”
“Though his son died for our sins, our free will to make whatever choice we want, still allows him to judge us.”
Kendrick acknowledges his “calling to share the joy of God,” but that he also needs to share “the FEAR OF GOD. The balance. Knowing the power in what he can build, and also what he can destroy.”
Praising Chance, he notes, “I love when artists sing about what makes Him happy,” before reiterating that his role is to “balance”, by telling “what will make Him extinguish you. Personally, once that idea of real fear registered in my mind, it made me try harder at choosing my battles wisely. Which will forever be tough, because I’m still of flesh.
“I wanna spread this truth to my listeners. It’s a journey, but it will be my key to the Kingdom. And theirs as well. I briefly touched on it in this album, but when he tells me to react, I will take deeper action.”