This essay examines artwork by popular artists D’Angelo, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and 2pac Shakur and compares their articulations to a larger discourse of messianic symbolism in (black) American popular culture. In this paper, messianic symbolism is a discursive chain of symbols that invoke the Black experience. Artists extend the legacy of earlier representations of black messianism by similarly representing themselves as Jews, saviors or folk heroes with a specific mission to save a world burdened by racial strife and oppression. These qualities manifest in lyrics, album covers, and other late 20th century rhetoric.
© The Journal
Williams, Daniel L.
"The Messianic Zeal: A Case of Radical Aesthetics in Black Cultural Production,"
Journal of Hip Hop Studies: Vol. 5
, Article 9.
Available at: https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/jhhs/vol5/iss1/9