It was revealed yesterday in a People Magazine interview that President Barack Obama’s favorite song of the year is Kendrick Lamar’s “How Much a Dolla Cost.” While this revelation of the POTUS’ love for hip-hop is not something new, the gem to take away from this factoid is the message behind the track he loves.
Lamar’s album To Pimp A Butterfly was met to much acclaim not only because of the musicality of the record, but also the strong stances and messages he makes throughout the record.
This track is no different as it discusses his encounter with a homeless man, and his unwillingness to pay him any mind despite his great wealth. The man asks Kendrick for just a single dollar, to which the rapper just closes the door of his luxury car.
In the narrative, Lamar is sitting in his car paralyzed with the thought of his non-reaction to the man and also weary of him staring through the window in disbelief at the lack of apathy. Finally the man says to Kendrick, “Have you ever opened up Exodus 14?/A humble man is all that we ever need.”
Exodus 14 is the story of Pharaoh letting the Israelites go out of Egypt. The king then has a change of heart and decides to have his soldiers pursue the Jews and kill them. It is then that God decides the fate of this evil and all the men and Pharaoh are completely wiped out.
Perhaps this is the homeless man’s way of saying, turn back around and make the right decision or God will smite you – it is unclear.
This caught Kendrick’s attention as he began to “guilt trip,” before berating the man. The rapper says to him, “My selfishness is what got me here…So I’ma tell you like I told the last bum, crumbs and pennies I need all of mines/ and I recognize this type of panhandlin’ all the time.”
The beggar then drops this bombshell on Kendrick, “Know the truth, it’ll set you free/You’re lookin’ at the Messiah, the son of Jehova, the higher power The choir that spoke the word, the Holy Spirit, the nerve/ Of Nazareth, and I’ll tell you just how much a dollar cost/ The price of having a spot in Heaven, embrace your loss, I am God.”
Lamar essentially preached a parable about “gaining the world and losing your soul.” He is literally asking, “How much does a dollar cost?” It is a reminder to stop being selfish for a second and think in terms of WWJD.
Matthew 25:40-41: “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”
Let’s be clear on Kendrick Lamar – he is in no way a Christian artist, but he is most definitely someone who is aware of God and is searching for him in some way. The emcee appears to have a warring concept of God within his music that goes back to Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.
He wants to serve God, but still gets sucked into world indulges. He is aware of his hypocrisy in that aspect and hopes God can forgive him.
This is similar to the public perception of President Obama. He cites that he has Christians roots, but sways far from Conservative politics. Other people harp on the fact that he is secretly Muslim, and is often very protective of people in that faith.
However, what does it say that the president picked this track as his favorite song of 2015 – it says, that even the most powerful man in the world needs a reminder that he isn’t the most powerful in the universe. Perhaps it opens eyes to his thought process on why he is so “PC.” Obama may want to treat everyone as if they are as important as Jesus, whether Christian, Muslim, gay or straight, pro life or pro choice, Republican or Democrat. Of course this is all speculation, maybe Obama just really loves the beat. Whatever the case, in a sea of songs released this year, Obama picked one with a strong social, pro-Christian message.
Listen to the clean version of the song below:
What do you think of the message of the track and Obama picking it as his favorite song? Do you think the message resonates to his policies?