Kendrick Confesses

The Theological Kinship of
Augustine of Hippo & Kendrick Lamar of Compton

Kendrick Lamar (Duckworth) sits atop the rap throne. For the last decade his albums have received top praise among fans and critics and each of his last four albums deserve spots among “top records” lists of the 2010’s. Kendrick is the first musician outside of the classical and jazz genres to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music. His music is also deeply theological and firmly autobiographical.

These characteristics are what drew me to make a comparison to another giant figure, polarizing and compelling in his own right. Augustine of Hippo is said to have pioneered the modern autobiography with his embarrassingly honest and theologically stunning work, The Confessions. I first noticed a theological kinship when trying to describe the relevance of Augustine’s inner struggle with seemingly minor sins and the pull of peer pressure to high school students. Immediately my mind was drawn to Kendrick Lamar’s album, good kid m.A.A.d city, with songs such as “money trees,” “backseat freestyle,” and “the art of peer pressure” giving modern and relevant voice to Augustine’s own descriptions of his adolescence in Book 2 of the Confessions. However, once that connection was made it all began to fall into place; Kendrick’s autobiographical albums seemed to eerily match the rough sketch of the confessions, in both structure and theme. I decided to begin this labor of love, drawing out the theological kinship between Kendrick Lamar of Compton and St. Augustine of Hippo.

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