Journal of Hip Hop Studies

Journal of Hip Hop Studies


Matthew Linder


In Danielle S. Macon’s "To Pimp a Caterpillar: Hip Hop as Vehicle to Spiritual Liberation through the Decolonization of European Ideology" about Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, she identifies Kendrick’s three-step process of liberation for African-Americans through spirituality: exhibition, revelation, and community orientation. I seek to place her analysis of Kendrick’s music within the context of Daniel White Hodge’s exploration of the neo-sacred secular in Hip Hop, a theological concept containing three elements: a belief that God is in all things, viewing life as having good and bad elements, and a rejection of religionism as the only way to God. Firstly, I will explore how Kendrick takes on himself the tropes of Hip Hop and African-American Street life, not to promote their virtues but to subvert them. Secondly, framing Kendrick’s presentation of an alternative identity built on his reframing of two Christian theological concepts: imago dei and identity as found in person and work of Jesus. Lastly, the process through which he bridges the gap between life in poor African-American urban spaces and Christianity to reconstruct Hip Hop realness in terms of sincerity and a common humanity, instead of the artificially-created litmus tests of Hip Hop authenticity. These three elements are then oriented in Kendrick’s music as the spiritual processes through which he strives to liberate himself, Compton, and his African-American community.






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