good kids, m.A.A.d. cities: Jesus-K.Dot, Jerusalem-Compton
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good kids, m.A.A.d. cities: Jesus-K.Dot, Jerusalem-Compton
Yale Divinity School
Prof. Michal Beth Dinkler
December 4, 2014
The setting of a narrative gives the reader the pertinent details to identify the story, plot, and characters of the narrative and to interpret their meaning. While some scholars claim that setting is not as important to the narrative as the plot or the characters, a look at the Lukan Passion Narrative in relation to Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012; Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records) can illumine the importance of the setting in narrative. One could argue that such a juxtaposition is sacrilegious or unimportant, yet for the field of literary theory, narrative criticism, biblical studies, and cultural studies, this paper is an attempt to further define the importance of the narrative and narrative elements in the New Testament. Specifically, the setting as an element of the narrative (plot, story) is found to play a major role in the Lukan text, with the narrative of Kendrick Lamar acting as our 20th century "cognitive map" to look at the effects of narrative setting in an ancient (literary) text. Through a narrative analysis of the settings of the 'expanded' Lukan Passion Narrative (Luke 19:28-48; 22-24) and Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city (12 tracks; 68 min., 23 sec.), this paper will show that the settings of these 'texts' are one of the most important features of the narrative, framing the plot and characterizing the protagonist who reacts to the settings of the 'hostile city' (Jerusalem and Compton), only to be ontologically changed and no longer threatened by the hostility of the city, but serving as a model for the future characters of the 'hostile city' (disciples to current Israel-Palestine relations and YG to future youth of Compton). In framing the Lukan Passion Narrative within the contemporary setting of hip-hop, the 'hostile city' as archetype in narrative settings is constructed.
In literary studies, setting has numerous definitions and appraisals. Probably the most referenced work in narratology (and specifically here, literary setting), is Seymour Chatman's Story and Discourse (1978). Chatman includes a small section on setting in his chapter on characters and narrative-space, known as "existents." For Chatman, "Characters exist and move in a space which exists abstractly at the deep narrative level, that is, prior to any kind of materialization...The setting 'sets the character off' in the usual figurative sense of the expression; it is the place and collection of objects 'against which' his actions and passions appropriately emerge." Chatman's attitude towards setting is complex. At first, he seems to argue that setting is secondary in importance to characters; yet, he goes on to claim that the "principal function of setting is to contribute to the mood of the narrative." Furthermore, he claims that setting-elements have a greater function than as just 'things' in the story, and the reader can begin to associate certain feelings with certain objects (props) or settings. Although Chatman denotes the importance of setting (enough so that he includes it as a section in his book), and discusses the five types of settings set forth by Robert Liddell, Chatman's analysis is most convincing when he claims that characters serve a different role than setting-elements, thus perhaps making them more important too. Chatman claims that characters are "difficult to presuppose," meaning that characters are intentionally included in the narrative scene, whether "announced or strongly implied"; however, the setting has to be 'authenticated' by the reader/hearer through a 'filling in' of the necessary setting-elements.
Mark Allan Powell and James Resseguie utilize Chatman's theory of setting to analyze setting in the New Testament. Powell defines setting as follows: "Settings represent that aspect of the narrative that provides context for the actions of the characters." Resseguie defines setting as "the background against which the narrative actions takes place." In both of these definitions, and going back to Chatman's definition of setting, context is the primary qualifier for the function of setting in a literary work. Yet, as addressed above, Chatman's hierarchy of setting within primary literary elements is not reproduced by Powell and Resseguie. Powell claims, "Chatman says the demarcation between settings and characters ('existents') is not simple but a continuum." Powell argues that Chatman misses that, unlike characters, settings do not espouse a particular point of view, yet, "settings may be characterized as possessing certain descriptive qualities." Settings can become character-like and can be ascribed traits; then, settings can espouse a point of view as 'truer' characters, rather than just "walk-ons" (or character-like setting-elements such as crowds) as Chatman argues. Powell sums this up convincingly:
They [settings] too are not limited to the functional role they serve in the story but have the capacity to transcend that role. Some settings become so clearly entrenched in the mind of the reader that they, like memorable characters, take on a life of their own. The reader can easily imagine events not reported in the narrative occurring within these settings.
Resseguie gives setting a prominent role in the narrative as well:
Although not all settings are pregnant with meaning, seldom do they merely fill in the background detail. Setting may develop a character's mental, emotional, or spiritual landscape; it may be symbolic of choices to be made; it provides structure to the story and may develop the central conflict in a narrative.
Furthermore, Resseguie claims that "a close reading of setting adds to the interpretation of characterization, plot, theme, and point of view." This is the viewpoint espoused by the analysis in this paper; yet, here, setting is given a primary role in narrative as both a framework and as causative to the plot, theme, and characterization of Jesus-Christ and K.Dot-Kendrick Lamar. The setting of these two narratives (Lukan Passion and good kid, m.A.A.d. city), as an archetypal 'hostile city,' embraces the character-like role that Powell presents, impacting the protagonist and transcending the text.
These are the theoretical definitions and parameters of narrative setting, but what types of settings exist? Powell discusses three types of settings: spatial, temporal, and social. Powell draws on the importance of Mieke Bal's theory of 'inside and outside' spatial settings. These are both a dichotomy and a paradox. Inside settings can connote 'protection or security,' but they can also suggest 'confinement.' Outside settings can connote 'danger' or 'freedom.' More importantly, we can think of inside-outside in terms of urban-suburban-rural in the Lukan Passion Narrative and good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Inherent in this tripartite spatial theory is also the boundaries between them. The boundaries can be fluid or rigid, and they can denote an opposition or paradox. Again, setting is not given its due here. Bal's spatial theory for setting goes on to explain how the description of a locale is an end in itself because it only describes necessary details for the plot and lacks 'sensory data.' Additionally, according to Powell, Gospel settings are limited to utilitarian and dramatic effect, where a paucity of detail heightens our attention to the inclusion of detail, or when it is utilized in the text.
Powell defines temporal settings as chronological and typological. Chronological temporality includes 'locative,' a particular point in time when action takes place, and 'durative,' which denotes an interval of time. Typological temporality is a 'kind of time' within which an action transpires (night-day). Powell also includes Paul Ricoeur's theory of mortal time and monumental time, which will be helpful here as a model for our eventual distinction between setting-elements and archetypal setting ('hostile city'). Mortal time is the time of the characters in the action of the story while monumental time is the broad sense of time that transcends history and is not measured by the characters. This bipartite distinction of narrative time can be applied to narrative setting. As with mortal time, setting-elements can be seen as dealing with the 'ground floor' of the story. It frames the characters, provides spaces and places for them, and exhibits actions. Similar to monumental time, archetypal setting (or 'setting' as a general reference to the grander setting of the narrative, both within and without the text) is not distinct from setting-elements because it does not interact with the characters of the story, but because it acts as a character itself and transcends the history and temporality of the narrative. It becomes narrative itself, like monumental time.
The archetypal setting, here the 'hostile city,' acts as a narrative identity itself (with character-like qualities that are 'inter-subjective or distributed' out of the text like knowledge from one's brain and become the 'stuff of culture' at the macro level), transcendent to the metaphysical realm of literary and other types, such as the transcendence of the Bildungsroman in and out of genre archetype. The archetypal city setting for biblical studies has often been Babylon, as a symbol of immorality, impiety, and ignorance; but, in the New Testament, Jerusalem is almost theoretically juxtaposed to Babylon, given a greater significance through the passion of Christ as a 'hostile city,' while the idea of a New Jerusalem emerges as a post-apocalyptic celestial city. This idea of archetypal 'hostile city' will be discussed further below through analysis of the primary texts.
The third and final type of setting that Powell presents is the social setting. The social setting portrays the social circumstances: political institutions, class structures, economic systems, social customs, and general cultural context assumed to be operative in the work. While Powell's analysis of these three major categories of setting is enlightening, we should keep an open mind about how we define the parameters of setting, as we have already begun to do with the theory of archetypal setting. Resseguie can help us think in terms of an all-inclusive continuum of setting categories and types, for he includes the following settings: geographical, topographical, religious, architectural, social, cultural, political, temporal, spatial, Chatman's "walk-ons" (minor characters), and props.
Lastly, before doing a critical reading of the two texts, we should define some aspects of this study and demarcate our parameters. First, we should define how we are approaching setting in these two texts. Chatman implies that character identity is important, that named characters are important and impressionable to the reader (as opposed to "walk-ons" who are a but "parts of the dismal setting"). For our analysis of narrative setting, we can take a similar approach. Jerusalem and Compton are both named spaces and are thus very important to the narrative, and are the nominal identifiers for the archetypal 'hostile city.' Moreover, we can also understand the term city to act as a stand in for the formal city name, having the same impact on the narrative setting as the formal name of the cities themselves (this does not mean that when the formal city names are used that this is not a heightened awareness of setting in the narrative). For both the Lukan and K.Dot narratives, the 'city' refers to the hostile environment in which their plots are enacted, their stories are told and unfold, and where they are persecuted and subjected to hostility.
Second, we should think about the setting of these two narratives, or stories, within the frame of how narrative works and functions. Gérard Genette delineates 'narrative' into order, duration, frequency, mood, and voice. Order and duration are important to remember when analyzing setting because the narrative structure of the text can be followed most accurately through the setting, i. e. the urban contexts of Jerusalem and Compton. Additionally, the frequency with which the setting is determined insists that the narrative transcends the urban fabric (archetypal 'hostile city'), yet is mediated and grounded by specific public/private spaces (setting-elements), such as an inner courtyard, temple, Golgotha, Mount of Olives, amongst large crowds, Church's Chicken, Rosecrans Avenue, Lueders Park, etc. With these things in mind, let us move into the texts themselves, beginning with the 'expanded' Lukan Passion Narrative.
Jerusalem - Luke 19:28-24:53
In the following critical analysis of the settings (geo-topographical, temporal, social, cultural, etc.) of the 'expanded' Lukan Passion Narrative, specific instances of setting and setting-elements in these chapters and verses will show that Jerusalem and its identification as the 'city' create the archetype of 'hostile city' in the Lukan text.
Beginning with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Luke 19:28, Jerusalem as 'city' is defined. Geographically, Jerusalem is juxtaposed with its surrounding towns (Bethphage and Bethany), the Mount of Olives, and a village. As Jesus and his entourage near the city, Jesus sees the city, 'wept over it,' and gives the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 19:41-44. Jesus does a very interesting thing, verbally, in this passage; he refers to Jerusalem in the second person singular, 'you.' Not only does he refer to Jerusalem in this manner, but he also uses a form of 'you' fifteen different times in these three verses. Jesus personifies the city of Jerusalem himself! He characterizes Jerusalem, the city, as a collective unit: its people, its things, its spaces, its cultures, its histories. The rhetoric of Jesus in this passage gives the reader an early cue that Jerusalem is qualitatively different from the other settings of this gospel.
Shortly after Jesus enters Jerusalem, he goes to the temple, cleanses it, and teaches there daily. In v. 47, the reader is presented with another type of setting, "The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him [Jesus]..." This hostile social setting grounds the hostility within Jerusalem immediately in the narrative. The hostile social setting will develop further in the narrative into a hostile religious and cultural/political setting as well.
The first reference to Jerusalem as a continuous (thus, future) setting of hostility occurs in Luke 21:12-19. In these verses, Jesus tells the disciples that when he is gone they will be 'arrested and persecuted,' 'handed over to synagogues and prisons,' 'and brought before kings and governors.' This is a foreshadowing of Jesus' arrest, trial, and persecution in the next chapter of the narrative, which occurs in the same Jerusalem that the disciples will remain after Jesus' ascension (24:49, 52-53). This idea of a continuous 'hostile city' will be evaluated later.
Jesus makes a second prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 21:20-24. But, in this second prophecy, Jesus does not characterize the city of Jerusalem; instead, he uses the concept of setting dichotomy and boundary to further signify Jerusalem as a 'hostile city,' and as an 'other' space. In v. 21, Jesus says "those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it." Here, Jesus creates the city-country dichotomy and utilizes the actions of leaving and entering to denote the boundary between them.
After several occurrences of social contempt or hostility towards Jesus by the religious leaders in the city in Luke 20-22, the Passion Narrative proper begins with Jesus going to Gethsemane in Luke 22:39. In v. 43-44, Jesus' character receives courage and strength from an angel and sweats profusely. This characterization of Jesus is important because it shows that the hostile settings of the city of Jerusalem are having a visible effect (to the reader only) on Jesus' character. At Jesus's arrest, he shows an attitude of anti-hostility in Luke 22:49-51 when he heals the injured servant's ear. This action of anti-hostility to the group of people arresting him, who are a part of the hostile social setting of Jerusalem, promotes the characterization of Jesus as the antagonist of the 'hostile city.'
In the scenes of Jesus' captivity and trials, we can utilize Bal's paradox of inside-outside space. In Luke 22:57-68, Jesus is in an inside, or private, space of the Sanhedrin and Jewish guards. This inside space acts as a hostile spatial setting because it is a space filled with a hostile social setting. The characters present in this spatial setting directly define the essence of the spatial setting through their hostile social/religious/political natures. Similarly, the outside setting of "walk-ons," or the crowd, in Luke 23:13-26, when Jesus is before Pilate, is a hostile setting, spatially, socially, culturally, politically, and religiously. Within this hostile setting is a subtle and nuanced hostility between Rome and Judea, as Luke includes Herod in the trials of Jesus. This geo-political move by the author further denotes the hostility of Jerusalem within itself and in a larger context of the Roman Empire. This is expanded upon later in Luke 23:38, because the Lukan author includes three different languages on the sign above Jesus' head on the cross. The inclusion, only in Luke, of Aramaic, Greek, and Latin is representative of the cultural hostility that has occurred, is occurring, and will occur in the city of Jerusalem.
Jesus makes one last prophetic claim about the continued hostility within Jerusalem on the way to Golgotha. In Luke 23:27-31, women cry for Jesus, but he tells them not to cry for him (not to cry for the hostility he has been subjected to!), but for the future inhabitants of Jerusalem and for their subjection to hostility.
Until this point in the narrative, the character of Jesus has been subject to hostility through the settings of Jerusalem; socially through persecution from the religious leaders, politically through Pilate and Herod (the Jewish and Roman juridical settings), and spatially through the landscapes of Jerusalem and the places of the passion narrative. In other words, the protagonist of the narrative, Jesus, has experienced the narrative in the 'hostile city.' The city of Jerusalem is the 'hostile city' and Jesus' state of being before his death exposed him to this hostility. But, after his resurrection, Jesus' character is ontologically changed; a character who is no longer subject to the hostility of the 'hostile city.'
This occurs in Luke 24:5, when the women approach Jesus' tomb, but do not find his body. The angels say to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen." These words signal the reader to the ontological change of the character of Jesus. He died, was resurrected, and is no longer under the hostility of the social structures of Jerusalem. His 'enemies' can longer influence his fate as a character. This literary device of the change in character and resulting change in setting for the character is not apparent without a strict reading of the text, specifically analyzing the setting of the narrative. However, what is problematic for the narrative setting after the resurrection of Jesus is the setting of the final verses of Luke. After the resurrection, Jesus appears outside of Jerusalem, first in Emmaus and then in Bethany for his ascension (Luke 24:13-35, 50-52). This can be interpreted as Jesus' character not allowing himself to be involved with a confrontation with his former hostile social setting. He is now clearly divine after being resurrected and perhaps does not want to interact with his former 'hostile city' until his prophecy of the apocalyptic destruction of Jerusalem.
Yet, what is clear in the final verses of the Gospel of Luke is that Jerusalem will not stop being a 'hostile city.' In Luke 24:47, Jesus claims that the disciples will proclaim the good news, "beginning in Jerusalem," and in v. 48 he commands them to "stay here in the city." Jesus places the disciples in the 'hostile city' of Jerusalem. From the previous sayings of Jesus, describing the eventual persecution of the disciples inside and outside of Jerusalem, the reader is aware that the disciples are now the primary subjects to the 'hostile city' of Jerusalem.
And, finally, Luke ends with 24:52-53, where the disciples return to Jerusalem and are "continually in the temple." Therefore, the setting of the Jerusalem narrative ends in the same place that the narrative began, in the temple in Jerusalem; yet, the protagonist has changed, and the one(s) who are now the subjects of the 'hostile city' are the disciples of Jesus. This is continued in the Acts of the Apostles as a part of the greater Lukan narrative, specifically the persecution by and of Paul.
Compton - good kid, m.A.A.d. city
Kendrick Lamar's first studio album on a major record label presents a non-linear narrative of a single day in the streets of Compton, a city of South Central Los Angeles. Popular as a crime-ridden urban environment, replete with gang violence, and as Kendrick says, "bodies on top of bodies" (GKMC 8), Compton is the archetypal 'hostile city' of the 20th and 21st century. And, parallel with the Jerusalem narrative of Luke, the Compton narrative of K.Dot/Kendrick Lamar on GKMC features an ontological change of the main character, the protagonist, K.Dot into Kendrick Lamar, toward the end of the narrative. This similarity is crucial to understanding the importance of the setting for the narrative of Luke and GKMC. It is my hope that the following analysis of a contemporary rap album will help to illumine the element of setting in narratology and the New Testament.
The opening of GKMC supplies the hearer with an immediate, possibly hostile, social setting. The skit that opens the first track, "Sherane, a.k.a. Master Splinter's Daughter," features salvation rhetoric by several characters in which they ask for salvation from God. This immediate introduction to the narrative could suggest that something has happened for these characters to seek salvation. This same skit will return later in the narrative, with specific settings and context with which to interpret its meaning. In the first verse of "Sherane, a.k.a. Master Splinter's Daughter, K.Dot recalls a conversation he had with Sherane about their geographical setting, thus giving this setting for the remainder of the narrative and for the hearer. K. Dot asks Sherane where she lives, and she replies "down the street from Dominguez High." This is not a specific locale; yet, K.Dot is persistent, asking Sherane, "Well is it Compton?" In the line before he claims that he knows that this description is "borderline Compton or Paramount." The question, "Well is it Compton?," sets up the setting of Compton as 'hostile city.' The hearer is not aware of why the city is hostile and what types of setting-elements Compton will produce to make it a 'hostile city,' but the slight hesitation in K.Dot's speech signals the hearer to question why being in Compton is so important to the narrative. Sherane's response of "No" is not a point of focus for K.Dot, who immediately begins his objectification of Sherane's sexuality; but, for the hearer, the negative response from Sherane will linger in the hearer's ear for a few tracks. Later in the track the hearer learns that K.Dot wants to see Sherane after the summer they met so he takes his mother's van and rides down Rosecrans Avenue in Compton, a formally named street that is a stand-in term for the city of Compton and K.Dot's traversing of this 'hostile city' in the succeeding narrative.
The next two tracks are K.Dot's idealization of life in Compton as a member of the 'hostile' society. "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" is a hesitant, but aggressively straightforward, track about success. This track breaks narrative and has foreshadowing, saying that the eventual Kendrick Lamar's "city found me put me on stages." This foreshadows K.Dot's metamorphosis into Kendrick Lamar, the successful rapper from Compton. The third track, "Backseat Freestyle," is a fully aggressive track about success and the life that Compton's youth hope to live. It includes regular imagery of the Compton lifestyle: cars, pills, money, power, sex, firearms, and success.
The fourth track is one of the most important of the entire album. "The Art of Peer Pressure" is an early interpretation of Compton as the 'hostile city,' and chronicles the narrative of a 'good kid,' K.Dot, who is subjected to the hostile environs, or setting, of Compton via peer pressure. The third line of the track claims that this is a "story told by Kendrick Lamar on Rosecrans," which places the hearer in the midst of the city of Compton. The track is filled with hostile images of Compton's cityscape and social setting. The social setting of the track is most important, with the common refrain "but I'm with the homies," as K.Dot claims that he never does these illicit things unless he is under pressure from his peers. The hostile social setting is heightened by the line that states, "We seen three niggas in colors we didn't like…" This line begins the narrative of gang violence and turf wars in the GKMC narrative. K.Dot's friends are trying to play into the 'hostile city' setting, claiming, "I'm tryna be the nigga in the street," while K.Dot is honest to the hearer that this is not his desire.
Track five is another wishful narrative of success coming out of Compton. The title of the track, "Money Trees," explains the flow of the lyrics. Line after line exclaims that this and this are the things that make people happy but this and this are hindering K. Dot and other Comptonites from achieving these goals. One line is repeated over again, "Dreams of living life like rappers do," and this is the wish that these characters can transcend the boundaries of Compton and become successful. Yet, the hearer is reminded of the real life story of Compton as 'hostile city': "Back to reality we poor, ya bish / Another casualty at war, ya bish."
The sixth track, "Poetic Justice," is a track about K.Dot's inner emotions and feelings about Sherane. It is a break in the action narrative until the skit at the end of the song. This skit is important for the remainder of the narrative of GKMC. In the skit, K.Dot arrives at Sherane's house, but he is met by "Two niggas, two black hoodies," from the last line of the first track, "Sherane, a.k.a. Master Splinter's Daughter." In the "Poetic Justice" skit, K.Dot is interrogated by these two minor characters, who ask where he is from, signaling to the reader that this is a question of 'turf' and boundaries, which is very important in gang-related communities. The skit ends with these two characters telling K.Dot to get out of his mother's van before they pull him out. This narrative picks up in a later track.
The next two tracks are crucial to understanding the entire narrative of GKMC, and these tracks combined give their name to the title of the album. The seventh and eighth tracks, "good kid" and "m.A.A.d. city," represent the 'hostile city' of Compton and the protagonist, K.Dot, who must undergo a change in order for his character to no longer be subject to the hostility of Compton, like Jesus post-resurrection in Jerusalem. For both of these characters, their ontological changes make them sterile to hostility. They are not subject to the 'hostile city' setting, although the future protagonists and characters will be subject to this type of setting.
In "good kid," K. Dot gives several verses of moving narrative, concentrating on his unwillingness to conform to the racist police's idea of Compton youth. He explains how he was questioned by cops who assumed he was in a gang because he was from Compton and utilized brutality because of their racist assumptions. K. Dot suffers these trials but ultimately claims, "I don't mind because one day you'll respect, the good kid, m.A.A.d. city." "good kid" begins with a softer rhythm and slower tempo to discuss the stereotypes of Compton youth; but, "m.A.A.d. city" opens with the most powerful statement of the entire album before a deep bass line and fast tempo rap begin to describe the archetypal 'hostile city,' the 'm.A.A.d. city' of Compton: "If Pirus and Crips all got along / They'd probably gun me down by the end of this song / Seem like the whole city go against me / Every time I'm in the street I hear / YAWK! YAWK! YAWK! YAWK!" This extreme opening, an aural setting that mirrors the hostile setting of the narrative, gives way to a slower, matter-of-fact tempo that tells the reasons why Compton is hostile, historically, and how K.Dot feels about it, claiming "Kendrick AKA Compton's human sacrifice." Ironically, K.Dot will not be the human sacrifice that changes him ontologically into a hostility-immune character of Compton.
The ninth track, "Swimming Pools (Drank)," tells of the use of alcohol to quell troubles, and to echo a history of alcoholism in K.Dot's family. The skit at the end of this track is the most important part of this late-mid section of the twelve track narrative. The skit picks up after the skit from "Poetic Justice," where K.Dot is confronted by the "two black hoodies" and told to get out of his mother's van. This skit tells us that these two characters 'stomped out' K.Dot over Sherane, meaning that because he was on their turf to see Sherane they beat him up. To deal with this, K.Dot's friends go to Sherane's place and find the guys that beat up K.Dot and shoot several gunshots out of their car at them, while they fire back as well. The hearer learns that Dave, one of K.Dot's friends with them, has been shot and killed because his brother (who has been a main voice of K.Dot's posse for the duration of the narrative) audibly bemoans his brother's death.
The tenth track, "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst" is a twelve minute song in which several points of view are espoused by the rapper, with the refrain repeating, "Promise that you will sing about me." This refrain allows the hearer to understand that these characters are underprivileged, or marginal, characters in Compton and believe that they have no way of getting out of this 'hostile city.' They plead with the rapper to tell their stories because they cannot. At the end of this track, a powerful religious skit occurs. Dave's brother can be heard saying that he is tired of "this shit," a plea for the hostility in Compton to be over, or at least for it to no longer affect these characters. These teenage boys in K.Dot's posse meet an older woman (voiced by the late Maya Angelou) who prays with them and assists them in receiving salvation from God. This is the point of ontological change for K.Dot.
The eleventh track, "Real," is about what is actually real, and what it means to be a real person and to love yourself when you are growing up in a troubled, hostile environment. Yet, the skit at the end of the song is telling of why K.Dot goes through an ontological change and becomes sterile to the hostility in Compton. The skit features a phone message from K.Dot's mother and father. His father exclaims, "Real is responsibility, real is taking care of your motherfucking family, real is god, nigga." His father has been a troublesome character from the beginning of the narrative, but in this crucial time in the narrative when K.Dot's future is at his toes, his father gives sage advice. His mother's message is even more powerful:
Oh, and Top Dawg called the house too. I guess they want you and Dave to come to the studio. But look, you take this music business serious, and put something me and your dad can step to. Shit, you know we from Chicago you know that's what we do. If I don't hear from you tomorrow...I hope you come back, and learn from your mistakes. Come back a man, tell your story to these black and brown kids in Compton. Let 'em know you was just like them, but you still rose from that dark place of violence, becoming a positive person. But when you do make it, give back, with your words of encouragement, and that's the best way to give back. To your city… (GKMC 11).
In this speech the hearer learns that K.Dot is working on becoming a rapper and that he has talent in his parents' and his studio's eyes. This is his ticket out of Compton. This is his ontological change that makes his character no longer subject to the everyday hostility of the city of Compton. He can tell his story and not be persecuted by the hostile social setting that he grew up in.
The twelfth and final track, "Compton," signals K.Dot's ontological change in character and why Compton is still a place that the rapper and many others call home. The first lines claim, "Now everybody serenade the new faith of Kendrick Lamar / This is king Kendrick Lamar." K.Dot has become Kendrick Lamar, the successful rapper that 'made it out of Compton,' like many rappers before him (like Dr. Dre who is featured on this track) and to come in the future. On this track Kendrick and Dr. Dre explain why they still love Compton as the city that 'made' them and formed them socially. Yet, they broke the idea of Compton as only 'hostile city' to be able to appreciate it as an urban landscape, their home: "In the city of Compton / Ain't no city quite like mine."
Conclusion - The Hostile City
Through a close analysis of the Lukan Jerusalem Narrative and Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city, an archetypal setting, the 'hostile city,' has been created and critically applied. The 'hostile city' as an archetypal setting, rather than a setting-element of the narrative, transcends the text, and allows for application to many textual sources. This archetypal setting is common in rap/hip-hop culture, yet Kendrick Lamar's album adopts this archetype and performs a complex narrative utilizing this literary element. Moreover, the 'hostile city' has been shown to be inextricably connected to the characterization of the protagonists in both the Lukan Jerusalem Narrative and GKMC. Both Jesus and K.Dot undergo ontological transformations to become the hostility-immune Christ and Kendrick Lamar. Therefore, it has been shown that setting is a primary element of the New Testament narrative, and one that continues to function archetypally in contemporary hip-hop.
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Rhoads, Daivd. "Social Criticism: Crossing Boundaries." In Mark & Method: New Approaches in
Biblical Studies, edited by Janice Capel Anderson and Stephen D. Moore, 135-170. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.
Shusterman, Richard. "Challenging Conventions in the Fine Art of Rap."In That's the Joint! The Hip-Hop
Studies Reader, edited by Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, 459-479. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Ward, Graham. Cities of God. New York: Routledge, 2000.
See Richard Shusterman, "Challenging Conventions in the Fine Art of Rap," in That's the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, eds. Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, 459-479 (New York: Routledge, 2004), for the argument that rap goes against the indictments of popular art in postmodernity, as a complex, historical, philosophical, and self-conscious art form, and Greg Dimitriadis, Performing Identity/Performing Culture: Hip Hop as Text, Pedagogy, and Lived Practice (New York: Peter Lang, 2009), 44, for the argument of rap as a "commodified art form--complete with narratives and three-part song structures."
"...20th century 'cognitive maps,' by which we select, sort, and comprehend the material we read in the New Testament." David Rhoads, "Social Criticism: Crossing Boundaries," in Mark & Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, eds. Janice Capel Anderson and Stephen D. Moore, 135-170 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 135-136.
"opposed in feeling, action, or character; antagonistic," (as different from "of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an enemy"). hostile. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hostile (accessed: December 03, 2014).
Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978). This is not an outrageous claim, according to Google, whose statistics state that this work by Chatman has been cited by 3,963 other works.
Ibid., 143. Liddell's five setting types as described by Chatman: utilitarian (low keyed, minimally necessary for action, untouched by emotion), symbolic (tight relation with action), irrelevant (unimportant and unnoticed by characters), inner landscapes (reminiscent), kaleidoscopic (shift from real and fantasy, outer world, inner imaginative world). Robert Liddell, A Treatise on the Novel (London: J. Cape, 1947).
Chatman, Story and Discourse, 141.
Mark Allan Powell, What is Narrative Criticism? (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), 69.
James Resseguie, Narrative Criticism of the New Testament: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 87, from William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 8th ed. (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1999), 147.
Powell, What is Narrative Criticism?, 69.
Ibid., 170. Chatman, Story and Discourse, 139.
Powell, What is Narrative Critcism, 69-70.
Resseguie, Narrative Criticism of the New Testament, 88.
See Mieke Bal, Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, trans. Christine van Boheemen (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), 44.
Powell, What is Narrative Criticism?, 70-71. Resseguie, Narrative Criticism of the New Testament, 100-101.
Powell, What is Narrative Criticism?, 70-72.
Ibid., 73-74. Resseguie, Narrative Criticism of the New Testament, 108-110.
Mark Freeman, "From substance to story: Narrative, identity, and the reconstruction of the self," in Narrative and Identity: Studies in Autobiography, Self, and Culture, eds. Jens Brockmeier and Donal Carbaugh, 283-298 (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2001), 290; Dimitriadis, Performing Identity/Performing Culture, 124.
Graham Ward, Cities of God (New York: Routledge, 2000), 33.
Powell, What is Narrative Criticism?, 74.
Resseguie, Narrative Criticism of the New Testament, 93-94.
Chatman, Story and Discourse, 139.
Gérard Genette, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, trans. Jane E Lewin (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980 [French, 1972]), 34.
Perhaps more appropriately called the Jerusalem narrative here. The Passion Narrative proper begins at Luke 22:39 and ends at 23:56, yet here I have included the larger Jerusalem narrative to show the 'setting up' of the Jerusalem/city setting when the narrative begins and the future of the 'hostile city' post-resurrection in Luke 24.
For background and reception of good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012), see these album reviews and lyric analyses: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/arts/music/kendrick-lamar-and-meek-mill-rappers-with-debut-albums.html?adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1353690918-7E2jie3vlz5/l0x7XzzxfQ&_r=1&
GKMC=good kid, m.A.A.d. city and numbers refer to the track number.