Exegesis comes from the Greek word exēgēsis which means critical interpretation, and it’s often used in the context of the Bible. Engaging in an exegetical study means to critically analyze and decipher the meaning of a text. In this mini-course, the text we will be conducting an exegesis of or investigating is DAMN. By Kendrick Lamar. This course will be 5 classes long, and we will be going through 5 songs from DAMN.: “Element.,” “Feel.,” “Lust.,” “God.,” “FEAR.,” and “HUMBLE.” This course has many layers and dimensions as does the piece of art it is centered around.
Lamar’s album can be analyzed religiously, biblically, politically, literarily and culturally. We will be examining the record from all of these vantage points; however, we will focus primarily on the cultural and literary significance of the album. This course will attempt to bridge the gap between the Hip-Hop zeitgeist and art of high literary merit. The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mocking Bird, are all pieces of art that stimulate our minds and so can a great a rap album; both should be critically appreciated.
A little bit about me: I love Hip-Hop. Some of my favorite albums are The Life of Pablo by Kanye West, Culture by Migos, Lil Boat by Lil Yachty, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, and of course this album, DAMN. You may be wondering why I have chosen this album for a Hip-Hop educational course and the reason boils down to substance. The substance or the meaning of DAMN. is unparalleled. Kendrick packs a punch in each line, and his work profoundly delves into topics such as one’s relationship with God, police brutality, indulgence in hedonism, coming to grips with the dangers of fame, being a victim of a failing political system, etc. Other artists have tried and try to philosophize with as much depth as Kendrick, but they usually pale in comparison and come off as superficial or barely scratching the surface.
Kendrick also proves worthy of being an artist whose art we can learn from because he never condones alcohol, drugs, partying, etc. While the typical MC would “flex” or promote indulgence in such things, Kendrick analyzes and critiques this culture and meditates on how it has shaped him. In each class, we will be going through one of the aforementioned tracks in Lamar’s latest Pulitzer-prize-winning project and analyzing it just exactly like you would traditional poetry. Analysis of a song in a full class comprises of a short lecture by me at the beginning of the class, group-discussions, paragraph and short-answer responses, creative writing assignments where you will try to create your own verses in, and of course, jamming to the tracks as a class. The goal of this mini-course is essentially to have fun and learn at the same time, both at equal levels, and I will give you my best offering to achieve this goal. I look forward to working with you!