Rap artist Kenrick Lamar provided the entertainment during the half-time break of the FBS national championship game this past January and the next day it prompted a discussion around the office cooler where I work about whether Lamar really is a Christian.
Some defended the assertion, but is he really in the sense that Christ would recognize him as one? First, in his own words then using the means by which he makes a living let’s see if he is. Then, lets take a look at what God’s holy word says.
In a April of 2017, the on-line magazine DJBCOTH, The Authority in Hip Hop published an article praising his recent, highly successful “DAMN” album release. It lauded him for bringing things spiritual to his music which prompted Lamar to send them the following explanation about his faith:
“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.
Hence the concept “The wages of sin is Death.” It shall be corrected. 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. As a child, I can’t recall hearing this in service. Maybe leaders of the church knew it will run off churchgoers? 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.”
I think Lamar makes a reasonable case that he understands man’s sin nature, the need for a savior and God’s wrath. Trouble is why doesn’t that come across in his music? Consider for instance the lyrics from three of the songs from DAMN that he performed in Atlanta on that Monday night:
Let’s start with the lyrics from DNA:
I got, I got, I got, I got
Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA
Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA
I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA
I got hustle though, ambition, flow, inside my DNA
I was born like this, since one like this
I transform like this, perform like this
Was Yeshua’s new weapon
I don’t contemplate, I meditate, then off your f##king head
This that put-the-kids-to-bed
This that I got, I got, I got, I got
Realness, I just kill s##t ’cause it’s in my DNA
I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in my DNA
I got dark, I got evil, that rot inside my DNA
I got off, I got troublesome, heart inside my DNA
I just win again, then win again like Wimbledon, I serve
Next the lyrics from Element:
New Kung Fu Kenny
Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me
Y’all know, what happens on Earth stays on Earth
Here we go!
I don’t give a f##k, I don’t give a f##k
I don’t give a, I don’t give a, I don’t give a f##k
I’m willin’ to die for this s##t
I done cried for this shit, might take a life for this s##t
Put the Bible down and go eye for an eye for this s##t
D.O.T. my enemy, won’t catch a vibe for this s##t, ay
I been stomped out in front of my mama
My daddy commissary made it to commas
B###h, all my grandmas dead
So ain’t nobody prayin’ for me, I’m on your head, ay
Thirty millions later, know the feds watchin’
Auntie on my telegram, like, “Be cautious!”
I be hangin’ out at Tam’s, I be on Stockton
I don’t do it for the ‘Gram, I do it for Compton
The lyrics from Humble:
Nobody pray for me
Even a day for me
Way (yeah, yeah!)
Ay, I remember syrup sandwiches and crime allowances
Finesse a nigga with some counterfeits
But now I’m countin’ this
Parmesan where my accountant lives
In fact, I’m downin’ this
D’USSÉ with my boo bae, tastes like Kool-Aid for the analysts
Girl, I can buy yo’ a## the world with my paystub
Ooh, that p###y good, won’t you sit it on my taste bloods?
I get way too petty once you let me do the extras
Pull up on your block, then break it down: we playin’ Tetris
A.M. to the P.M., P.M. to the A.M., funk
Piss out your per diem, you just gotta hate ’em, funk
If I quit your BM, I still ride Mercedes, funk
If I quit this season, I still be the greatest, funk
My left stroke just went viral
Is it obvious to you like me that if Kendrick Lamar is a Christian he’s been influenced by the Mark Driscoll style of faith, you know the potty mouthed type? Keep in mind the tunes he sang during the televised half-time period were most definitely deemed acceptable by ESPN, the NCAA and the corporate sponsors for its viewing audience. Past half-time controversies were surely in their memories. If those tunes reflect Lamar’s true faith world view then it certainly matches the kind of tactics taken by too many churches- accommodate the sinful manners and habits of the un-churched so they’ll show up on Sundays! Do it by not telling them they’re unrepentant sinners headed for Hell! ‘Course, Kendrick doesn’t just load up with the foul language and all the rest with just these three tunes. You should see the words to God; Fear; and Lust, also on his DAMN album.
The problem with it all is it goes against Christ’s teachings. Christ followers are to be salt and light to the dark and fallen world and those in it.
Potassium Chloride, or what we call salt has been known as a preservative for thousands of years. It keeps meat from rotting. The Egyptians used it to preserve the bodies of their dead. It was such a valued commodity some history scholars believe more wars were fought for it than for gold. It was valued in the 1st Century Israel also so no wonder it was a metaphor used by Christ and the Gospel writers to describe the saving grace of the Gospel message and how it preserves the souls of those who accept it from the eternal rot of Hell.
So on the evening of January 8th, 2018, we had the all accommodating message the Scriptures (Matthew 24:24; 1 John 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Corinthians 11:4; and Galatians 1:6-9) tell us to avoid targeted to the millions that make up the Hip Hop generation. Nowhere (at least during the televised portion of his gig) did Lamar encourage his audience to come to Christ; to repent or seek prayerful worship. I have no doubt the millions watching believe in Christ. They claim he is their personal savior but far, far fewer have ever really been regenerated and strived or have striven to give up their favorite sins, to seek holiness. Alas, they’re no nearer to salvation than the lowest demons in Hell. Even they believe in Christ. The bible tells us so.
If Lamar’s kind of faith message was medicine it’s watered down gospel message would help no one. In fact it would work more like poison, sending people who use it to Hell for never being truly regenerated, thinking all they have to do is have an intellectual knowledge of Christ but continue to live the same old sinful way or as in Lamar’s case the same old way to make a living. For example if you’re a thief and you continue to steal after accepting Christ as your savior then you’re living outside the bounds of obedience to his teachings and you’re vulnerable to final judgment if you don’t stop it and repent! That would include espousing the practice of stealing also, or any of any sin for that matter!
“But he was just singing! It wasn’t supposed to be a church service for Pete’s sake!” someone defending him will cry out.
That kind of “entertainment” (if one insists on calling it that) isn’t driven by the Holy Spirit because anyone truly under the spirits influence would see their sinful ways and work to (figuratively speaking) wash themselves clean from it. They would seek holiness. They would even refuse to participate in anything that might send someone else astray. See, any truly regenerated Christian like Kendrick Lamar thinks he is would rather dig a ditch to make a living than churn out music that promotes, entertains or feeds the minds of his audience with thoughts of violence, racial tension, lust, the degradation of women, humanist pride all punctuated with four letter language! Instead he would perform music that indicates he is seeking holiness, what’s called sanctification. Check out 1 Peter 1:15; John 15:8; 1 Timothy 4:4-5 and 6:11.
Finally, Christ tells us many who proclaim his name but never really knew him will wind up in Hell, and the road there is wide for a reason because billions will be duped into going there. He also tells us the path to Heaven is narrow.
I hope you’ll pray that Kendrick Lamar sees the error of his way. If the Lord chooses to send it I hope the Holy Spirit will do its wondrous work to convict him of his disobedience to Christ’s teachings. I hope it would change his heart so much so that he would have a new life attitude that says: “I know God has put me in a unique position to influence the dark, sinful world that so many are under the influence of. So, from now on I’m going to use my wonderful musical talents He has blessed me with for promoting the true Gospel, the one I claimed I longed for and know is out there.”