Kendrick Lamar Goes Hebrew Israelite On ‘Damn’

Kendrick Lamar became the first rapper to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music on Monday. He has a fascinating connection to the Hebrew Israelites, a mostly black group that claims Jewish roots.

On the latest album from Grammy Award-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar, the artist appears to declare himself a Hebrew Israelite — or at the very least to show he’s familiar with the movement’s beliefs.

“I’m an Israelite, don’t call me black no more, that word is only a color, it ain’t facts no more,” Lamar raps on the song titled “Yah.”

Lamar also references core theological beliefs held by Hebrew Israelites found in Deuteronomy 28, a passage which deals with curses delivered by God to the Israelites.

Hebrew Israelites are people of color, mostly African American, who identify as the descendants of the biblical Israelites. Hebrew Israelites frequently refer to Deuteronomy 28 as proof of their sacred lineage and that the transatlantic slave trade was prophesied in scripture. Prominent celebrities who have recently declared themselves Hebrew Israelites include Amar’e Stoudemire, the comedian Brandon T. Jackson and the Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris.

The Hebrew Israelite references in Lamar’s album are tied to a character on the album named Carl Duckworth, who Lamar calls his cousin, who urges the rapper to embrace the Hebrew Israelite identity.

“My cousin called, my cousin Carl Duckworth said know my worth and Deuteronomy say that we all been cursed,” Lamar raps on “Yah.”

A voice mail from that same cousin, or character, appears on another track on Lamar’s latest album, titled “Fear,” with Carl telling Lamar he will continue to suffer in this world until recognizes he is “an Israelite according to the bible.”

“The so-called blacks, Hispanics, and Native American Indians, are the true children of Israel. We are the Israelites according to the Bible,” Carl says.

“Until we come back to these laws, statutes and commandments, and do what the Lord said, these curses are gonna be upon us,” Carl says. “We’re gonna be at a lower state in this life that we live here in today, in the United States of America.”

Email Sam Kestenbaum at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

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Kendrick Lamar Goes Hebrew Israelite On ‘Damn’

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