Humility, Kendrick Lamar and Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reading Time:
January 3, 2023 9:03 PM
Special guest written by
Jon Rodz

The theme of Humility in Kendrick Lamar's and Ralph Waldo Emerson's works

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century." Born in 1803, passed in 1882.

And Kendrick Lamar, an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and one of the most influential rappers. 

Both seem like completely different people, but both share a theme in 2 of their works, Humility. 

In "Self-Reliance," Waldo argues, "The terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; A reverence for our past act or word, because the eye of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts and we are loath to disappoint them," which basically means in modern-day English we have Pride in ourselves and feel we are expected to do something, so we don't get judged by others, or our egos don't get damaged, we have to stay consistent to not alienate others, but Humility is the key to self-trust. 

Kendrick Lamar also discusses this idea in his song "PRIDE." Kendrick states, "Now in a perfect world I probably won't be insensitive... the hurt becomes repetition, the love almost lost that, sick venom in men and women overcome with Pride, a perfect world is never perfect only filled with lies, promises are broken, and more resentment come alive... see in a perfect world, I'll choose faith over riches, I'll make schools out of prison... Pride's going to be the death of you & me." The bars express that when people have Pride, they die spiritually, individually & become followers. To stay consistent and conform is not true to oneself, and if everyone did, it'd be a world full of lies. 

This idea connects to Waldo idea because it comes down to the fear of people having Humility, the opposite of Pride. The fear of being a unique human being. 

Waldo writes, "What I do is all that concerns me, not what the people think... it is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it easy in solitude to live after our own, but the great man is he who midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness or independence of solitude...". This point also connects to Kendrick's because we are expected to live or fit in with other people. We are told to care about certain subjects and told to do certain activities to be a part of something even if we don't want to. We are not allowed to have our own ideas or beliefs, and both Kendrick and Waldo express that it's okay to be honest and think on your own. Kendrick raps, "I ain't perfect I probably won't come around. This time, I might put you down. Last time I ain't give a fuck still feel the same now. I can't fake humble because your ass is insecure. I can't fake humble because your ass is insecure. "These ideas develop Waldo's idea because by being honest, Kendrick frees himself from expectations; he acknowledges he isn't perfect and says that people are insecure about being themselves, but he doesn't want to fake himself for somebody else. 

Both writers, one a poet and another a rapper, believe people should have Humility and get rid of Pride that blocks us from being ourselves. 

Jon Rodz
As a young professional designer, Jon Rodz studies UX design at SCAD. He works on products and services thoughtfully across industries. In an industry where Latinos are underrepresented, Jon believes he will make a difference in driving design innovation and systems inclusive of his culture.

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