“To the meaning of life..
What's my purpose? Maybe this Earth is..
Ain't a good place to be..
How far is heaven? Let's see..
Is it in the clouds like they said it would be?” - KDOT
Over 30 years ago, kids in the inner city were told that Hip hop was a “FAD” and had no longevity. Well, I believe we can all agree those critics were wrong and their kids are currently enjoying the culture “WE” created. Rap Music is the most diverse and complex music ever recorded. Music is the ultimate expression of life and the world would be incomplete without it. I truly believe this with all my heart. At any rate, art imitates life and vice versa. I call Rappers Street Poets and vivid Poems can provide listeners with a trip into the heart, minds and souls of the artists. Black People (African Americans etc…whatever) are spiritual people. Let me say this again. Black People are spiritual people. Our spirituality predates Religion.
“I wonder when I die..
Will he give me receipts?
I wonder will the eyes of the lord look at me?
Look at me, look at me, I'm a loser, I'm a winner
I'm good, I'm bad, I'm a Christian, I'm a sinner
I'm humble, I'm loud, I'm righteous, I'm a killer
What I'm doing, I'm saying that I'm human” - KDOT
Don’t get me wrong, Religion has its place within Black America and during our trials and tribulations in America, our faith in God or a higher power sustained families and communities. With that being said, our pain put pressure on a lot of Street Poets which caused inner conflict with our spirituality, faith and at times the God and Devil within us battle for supremacy. In 2011, Kendrick Lamar recorded the song “Kush and Corinthians” for his debut album Section 80. If you made it this far in the Article, you’ve read some of the lyrics already. I fell in love with Hip Hop all over again upon its release. Kendrick displayed a bundle of emotions that few MC’s dare to share. I remember hearing the first verse of the song and thinking where was he going with it.
“Ride to it, ride to it
Cause you never know
When a bullet might hit
And you die to it, die to it
Die to it, die to it
Live your life, live it right
Be different, do different things
Don't do it like
He did, cause he ain't what you is
But we can win, wait
Let's be straight, to the point” – KDOT
There is a lot of pressure being a BLACK CHILD in America. This is especially difficult when you’re raised in harsh environments. Harsh environments can come in the form of poverty (Projects, Poor Black Communities, Gang Culture & Drug Culture). It’s not a secret that poverty and violence go hand and hand. This is true for all communities but I will stick with Kendrick’s community in Compton and the Black Community. As you read the lyrics above, you notice a person who has self-awareness. He has an understanding of right and wrong but influence holds weight as you will see below.
“It go 1, 2, 3
Two in the front
One in the back seat
Seat, seat, seat
Looking for a victim of an AK-47
100 round each, each, each
But why must we retaliate?
Is it human nature?
I don't know
I look for the answers later
Make a right, there they go!” – KDOT
The pressure to be part of something is huge in our community. There are broken families so your friends and the neighborhood become family. My interpretation of Kendrick words is a description of our own CIVIL WAR in the Black Community. Again, I’m talking about the poverty-stricken communities as we are well aware of Middle Class and Affluent Black Communities. At any rate, the cycle of violence is displayed in the lyrics and the individual once again is in conflict with himself. As me move forward, contemplation begins…
“As I open this book and then burn up some of this reefer
My plan is to figure out the world and escape all my demons
I'm dying inside, I wonder if Zion inside the heavens
A condom, a rollie, pain, a fat blunt and a mack 11
That's all I see in my life and they tell me to make it right
But I"m right on the edge of Everest and I might jump tonight
Have you ever had known a saint that was taking sinner's advice?
Well it's probably you, am I right? If I'm wrong, you a fucking lie
When I lie on back and look at the ceiling, it's so appealing to pray
I wonder if I'm just a villain, dealing my morals away
Some people look at my face then tell me don't worry about it
I give em back they deposit, no money, just total silence
I'm running, they say I'm wildin' a youngin' with lack of guidance
That's hundreds of us with problems: more money, more drugs and violence
Look at the soul of an out-of-control artist
That's dealing with life the hardest” – KDOT
As I stated in my initial paragraph, Black People are spiritual people. The “Book” Kendrick is referring to is the Bible and it appears that he (the character in the song) is reading it under the influence of marijuana, trying to figure out the complications of life. In the New Testament, Paul wrote letters to the Church, but I digress. Even as I share my interpretation of “Kush and Corinthians”, I’m forced to think about my own childhood. By the time I was a senior in High School, I had been to several funerals of friends who died to Gun Violence. As a freshman at UNCG, I went to two more funerals back home. As I sat in several congregations, you heard the crying and prayers. Spirituality sustained our sanity but our pain was tremendous. The lyrics on this song took me to the Block, Church, my knees and the refrigerator to grab a beer and contemplate my very existence. When I think about kids who live out these lyrics, my heart is in PAIN. With this pain I pray for healing. Kendrick Lamar is a deep thinker. Kendrick Lamar is one of the few MC’s that can hold my attention from the new generation. Kendrick Lamar’s vivid imagery, storytelling and passion can rival some of the greatest MC’s of all time. Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest MC’s of all time.
PEACE – Tony Hanes, Da Dome
Lyrics: Kendrick Duckworth