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.

chapter |16 pages


K.Dotting the American cultural landscape with black meaning
Edited ByAnthony B. Pinn, Christopher M. Driscoll

part I|50 pages

Section.80 (2011)

chapter 1|6 pages

Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80

Reagan-era blues
ByRalph Bristout

chapter 2|12 pages

Can I be both?

Blackness and the negotiation of binary categories in Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80
ByMargarita Simon Guillory

chapter 3|14 pages

Hol’ up

Post-civil rights black theology within Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 album
ByDaniel White Hodge

chapter 4|16 pages

Singing experience in Section.80

Kendrick Lamar’s poetics of problems
ByMichael Thomas

part II|89 pages

Good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012)

chapter 5|30 pages

The good, the m.A.A.d, and the holy

Kendrick Lamar’s meditations on sin and moral agency in the post-gangsta era
ByJuan M. Floyd-Thomas

chapter 6|17 pages

‘Real is responsibility’

Revelations in white through the filter of black realness on good kid, m.A.A.d. city
ByRob Peach

chapter 7|21 pages

‘Black meaning’ out of urban mud

Good kid, m.A.A.d city as Compton griot-riff at the crossroads of climate-apocalypse?
ByJames W. Perkinson

chapter 8|19 pages

Rap as Ragnarök

Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and the value of competition
Edited ByChristopher M. Driscoll

part III|71 pages

To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)

chapter 9|16 pages

Can dead homies speak? the spirit and flesh of black meaning

Edited ByMonica R. Miller

chapter 10|16 pages

Loving [you] is complicated

Black self-love and affirmation in the rap music of Kendrick Lamar
ByDarrius D. Hills

chapter 11|21 pages

From ‘blackness’ to afrofuture to ‘impasse’

The figura 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
ByJon Gill

chapter 12|16 pages

Beyond flight and containment

Kendrick Lamar, black study, and an ethics of the wound
ByJoseph Winters

part IV|139 pages

DAMN. (2017)

chapter 13|14 pages

“Real nigga conditions”

Kendrick Lamar, grotesque realism, and the open body
Edited ByAnthony B. Pinn

chapter 14|17 pages

DAMNed to the earth

Kendrick Lamar, de/colonial violence, and earthbound salvation
ByBen Lewellyn-Taylor, Melanie C. Jones

chapter 15|12 pages

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. as an aesthetic genealogy

ByDominik Hammer

chapter 16|26 pages

‘I’m an Israelite’

Kendrick Lamar’s spiritual search, Hebrew Israelite religion, and the politics of a celebrity encounter
BySam Kestenbaum

chapter 17|21 pages

Damnation, identity, and truth

Vocabularies of suffering in Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN.
ByAndré E. Key

chapter |11 pages


KENosis: the meaning of Kendrick Lamar
Edited ByMonica R. Miller