Which is He: A God of wrath or of Mercy? Or is it both? Two artists have rekindled this centuries-old conflict between a merciful and gracious God and a wrathful God. Kendrick Lamar and Chance.

Image result for coloring book chance the rapper      Image result for damn kendrick

In my opinion, the two most religious rap albums so far this year are Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. DAMN has been a lot more successful commercially than Coloring Book but that doesn’t take anything away from how similar these two albums are. The albums combined make over 150 references to God and his likeness. The difference? The way they spoke about God.

Chance speaks of a God that is great and always keeps blessing him. A God that has helped him through all his suffering. Chance has even been praised as a pioneer of “gospel rap. There is a lot of optimism on his album.

Image result for chance the rapper and god

Chance, however, isn’t a blind optimist. There are tracks on Coloring Book where he speaks about the hardships of a sinner (“Same Drugs,” “Summer Friends”). But it seems to me that Chance would rather choose to highlight the positive things going on in life.

However, with Kendrick, he speaks of a God that is wrathful. A God that gives dire punishments for not following His teachings. He questions God in his music. He’s focused on the experiences of individuals and how suffering is central to that experience. Kendrick has long questioned humanity and God. The song “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, off Good Kid Maad City, is about the recognition that there are consequences for sinning.

Our God is a loving God,” Lamar told DJBooth in an email. “Yes. He’s a merciful God. Yes. But he’s even more so a God of DISCIPLE. OBEDIENCE. A JEALOUS God.”

“And for every conscious choice of sin, will be corrected through his discipline,” Lamar continues. “Whether physical or mental. Direct or indirect. Through your sufferings, or someone that’s close to [sic] ken. It will be corrected.”

Image result for kendrick lamar and god

Now compare what you read with how you see or hear Chance talk about God and/or religion.

These two are on different sides of the same coin. Both their views on God are necessary. Think about a coin for a minute. Does it matter whether the tail or head is facing you? Does the coin lose any value if one side is showing?


They’re like two halves of one of David’s Psalms.

And that’s the beauty of it all. There is value in both of their approaches.

In conclusion, the main benefit of religion is to induce people to serve themselves and others. Both men talk about that in their music and are big community leaders. One in Compton. Other in Chicago. Neither one will claim to have the answers about faith and God. We need them both in today’s music.




  1. I’ve honestly been wondering if anybody else was intrigued by how religion plays out in Chance’s “Coloring Book” so this was a great read for me! I’ve only heard some songs off of Lamar’s album and bits and pieces of others, yet I was able to comprehend the take-away regarding his project which, in comparison to “Coloring Book,” is opposing. This analysis made me want to go back and listen to Lamar’s album holistically.
    I look forward to reading future posts!


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