Share with your friends










Submit

Kendrick Lamar has single handedly challenged every rapper to get better! At least that’s what I’m supposed to believe after his featured verse on Big Sean’s song, “Control”.

For those who don’t know, Kendrick is a young, up and coming rapper from Los Angeles known for his ability to weave words together in complex ways. He’s a talented artist for sure, and anyone who is into hip hop can tell you that he has notable skill (i.e. he’s dope). But what’s all the fuss about his latest verse?

Controversy

Kendrick’s verse was debatably average to great, depending on who you ask. The content of his verse was the typical bragging, self exalting stuff that we hear in most musical genres (not just rap), and certain lines in his lyrics have set off a barrage of responses from Lakers coach Phil Jackson to rapper Lupe Fiasco.

The rap world is losing its mind, as everyone is weighing the effects of his verse. I can’t help but feel like this is my old high school where we’re sitting on the bus after school making jokes about someone’s clothes to a roar of “ooohs”, coupled with smirks and grins as everyone awaits a response. So pardon me if I can’t help but feel like there has been a juvenile response to Kendrick Lamar’s verse, sadly even amongst Christians.

[Tweet “The rap world is losing its mind, as everyone is weighing the effects of his verse.”]

Here’s a sampling of just one of a few lines that has sparked discussion:

I’m important like the pope/I’m a muslim on pork/I’m Makaveli’s offspring, I’m the king of New York
King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both

Kendrick strikes a chord by saying that he’s the King of New York, which is something even New Yorkers are split about (think Nas and Jay Z). To be from Los Angeles and say that is to insinuate that there isn’t enough talent in New York to even give the title to someone from New York. In hip hop categories those are fighting words.

Now, I hardly think this will launch another east coast/west coast rivalry (think Biggie and Tupac in the 90’s), but that’s not what I take issue with. My issue is how Christians have put off discernment and got caught up in the melee.

[Tweet “My issue is how Christians have put off discernment and got caught up in the melee.”]

Culture Building through Boasting 

Kendrick was simply being boastful. I know, we all want to herald “good art” and acknowledge God’s common grace in skillfulness present all throughout the world, but “good art” is never a cause to be muted on our grief over sinful boasting. Do we mourn over our own sinful boasting? And should we not mourn over sinful boasting in all the world?

Christians are joining the chorus of the world and saying, “Wow, rappers are being challenged to get better in their craft because of Kendrick’s verse!” as if the advance of culture is spearheaded by bragging and boasting. Babel is a tower built on human boastfulness. New Jerusalem is a city built on the suffering of Jesus Christ. Boasting about the greatness of your skills does not represent progress in culture. This world is inevitably moving towards God’s glory, and His kingdom will come and will be done.

[Tweet “Babel is a tower built on boastfulness. New Jerusalem is a city built on the suffering of Jesus Christ.”]

[Tweet “Boasting about the greatness of your skills does not represent progress in culture.”]

Kendrick Lamar’s verse is out of touch with reality.

[Tweet “Kendrick Lamar’s verse is out of touch with reality.”]

Form vs Content

My last words will help put a bow tie on this. I’m not ignorant to the idea that we can love the form but hate the content. I just want Christians to think better and more clearly about the way content can undermine the form.

[Tweet “I just want Christians to think better and more clearly about the way content can undermine the form.”]

Something tells me that Christians would hesitate to congratulate the scientific achievements of lab that created a new toxin and released it into the water supply. Something tells me that believers would mourn louder than they’d applaud if a film producer released a skillfully shot movie that glorified sex slavery. At what point do we, as Christians, say, “Enough!” and mourn that the skillfulness of a form is overshadowed by it’s content? We lose every bit of Gospel effectiveness when we get comfortable with entertaining sin in our private lives and the public culture.

If anything, this blog is a call to hate our sin in such a way that it frees us to love the world the way that Jesus did with tears, grace, and bold calls to abandon fading glory in exchange for everlasting glory in Christ.

Privacy Preference Center