The Bible’s influence is immense. For many it functions as their life’s compass, by which going in the right direction means to walk in God’s footsteps and all other paths — at best — lead nowhere. That perspective is what Kendrick Lamar cautiously navigates on his third proper studio LP, DAMN.
Similar to Lamar’s debut album, good kid m.A.A.d. City — which closes with an older woman saving a group of roughneck teens with the Sinner’s prayer — the concept of DAMN. is threaded together by religion. Though here on Lamar’s latest, he leans into Bible messaging and scriptures even more.
Throughout Lamar’s career, he’s used a sizable amount of his content to elevate his listeners, to speak for the voiceless and forgotten from his Compton, California home. His previous album, 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly, broadened his scope, aiming to lift not only the black community in his native Los Angeles, but African Americans from coast to coast who felt disenfranchised, belittled and inhuman in the new era of highly publicized police brutality — one that necessitated slogans like #BlackLivesMatter. But with Kendrick seemingly disillusioned by what has happened in this country since Pimp was released two years ago, the second half of the album’s volatile “XXX” calls up to Christ to lament about the United States.
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