Religion can be a conflicting thing for those who believe. The logic of living on Earth with things of the flesh often combats the duty to keep the heart with someone high above. This battle between faith and flesh is at the core of Kendrick Lamar’s new album DAMN., a conversation piece if there ever was one.
In the flurry of DAMN.-related thinkpieces, DJ Booth published a piece drawing comparisons between how God is approached by Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar. “It’s no secret that Chance attributes his success to God. He ‘gets his word from the sermon,’ claims God’s protective beings surround him and expresses a desire to praise the divine until his dying breath,” the piece read. “Kendrick, flipping the coin, doesn’t shy away from asking God the tough questions and plays the role of hip hop’s resident existentialist.”
Not only did the piece catch his eye, after reading it, he felt compelled to write back to the publication with a deeper analysis of their points of reference. He started off by talking about how his experiences as a youth in the pews translated to how he viewed God’s mercies:
I went to a local church some time ago, and it appalled me that the same program was in practice. A program that I seen as a kid the few times I was in service. Praise, dance. Worship. (Which is beautiful.) Pastor spewing the idea of someone’s season is approaching. The idea of hope. So on and so forth.
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. Whether physical or mental. Direct or indirect. Through your sufferings, or someone that’s close to [sic] ken. It will be corrected.
For Kendrick, life is all about balance, which is why he chooses to share the darker side of Christianity that people conveniently sweep under the rug:
I feel it’s my calling to share the joy of God, but with exclamation, more so, the FEAR OF GOD. The balance. Knowing the power in what he can build, and also what he can destroy. At any giving moment.
I love when artists sing about what makes Him happy. My balance is to tell you 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.
Poignant points, Kenny. Read his full train of thought on DJBooth.