chapter
16 Pages

Introduction

K.Dotting the American cultural landscape with black meaning

In this Introduction to Kendrick Lamar and the Making of Black Meaning, Anthony B. Pinn and Christopher M. Driscoll provide initial framing for understanding “religion” as a mode of meaning making that takes place within human cultural production. They then situate hip-hop culture as a mode of meaning making within the black experience and American culture, writ large. Pinn and Driscoll then give some biographical information on, and cultural analysis of, the life and work of Kendrick Lamar, arguing that he represents a site of competing, contested meanings in the contemporary cultural landscape. Lamar is part of a complicated, interconnected process of meaning making wherein he uses music as a canvas for expression, while the broader public uses him in a similar capacity, as their canvas for signification. For instance, some commentators read Lamar as a critic of religion, while others regard the artist as a religious artist. These competing claims are indicative of the importance of Lamar to popular culture, and, consequentially, humanistic research attentive to culture ought to include attention to Lamar. Pinn and Driscoll then offer a brief overview of the book’s structure, along with summaries of each chapter.