chapter  18
13 Pages

Hebrew Israelite covenantal theology and Kendrick Lamar’s constructive project in DAMN.

WithSpencer Dew

Spencer Dew’s “Hebrew Israelite Covenantal Theology and Kendrick Lamar’s Constructive Project in DAMN.” offers a snapshot of American religion as it relates to race and the Hebrew Israelite’s remixing of race and religion in a narrative first exposed to many by Lamar’s references to the Hebrew Israelites on DAMN. Dew argues that Americans, long believing themselves to be a ‘chosen people’ in a covenant with God, have since the Puritans found evidence of this exceptionalism even in damnation. For instance, in Deuteronomy 28, God rewards or punishes; there is no in between. Such foundational American theology was presented as scandalous by Fox News with a Jeremiah Wright sound bite, blind to context as the similar sound bite in Lamar’s 2017 DAMN., an album Dew suggests finds the reassurance of providence in the suffering and terror of this world while taking exception to certain claims to American exceptionalism, speaking not on behalf of the New Israel of America but as an original Hebrew Israelite. One song from DAMN. discussed by Dew, “YAH.” manifests in such learning, in the bonds of family, the company of cousins, the kindness offered regardless of risk. As with “YAH.” and other tracks discussed, Dew uses Lamar’s album to explore Hebrew Israelite theology and that lineage’s simultaneous rebuke and exposure of the irony inherent within American exceptionalism.