U2 Debuts Bible-Themed Single With Kendrick Lamar on SNL
On "Saturday Night Live," Irish rock band U2 performed their song "American Soul," which included an intro that takes inspiration from the Beatitudes in the New Testament.
The song began with an animated version of popular mainstream rapper Kendrick Lamar performing a spoken-word intro to U2's song "American Soul," from the band's brand-new Songs of Experience album.
Lamar, a seven-time Grammy award winner, said in the intro:
"Blessed are the arrogant, for theirs is the kingdom of their own company. Blessed are the superstars, for the magnificents in their light we understand better our own insignificance. Blessed are the filthy rich, for you can only truly own what you give away like your pain. Blessed are the bullies, for one day they will have to stand up to themselves. Blessed are the liars, for the truth can be awkward."
The Beatitudes are found in Matthew 5:3-12, in the Bible, and Lamar appears to have flipped the blessings that Jesus preached in the passage.
After performing the second SNL song, "Get Out of Your Own Way," also from Songs of Experience, Bono reiterated some of Lamar's earlier words from a megaphone: "Blessed are the liars; the truth can be awkward. Blessed are the cast of Saturday Night Live," according to USA Today.
Bono told Rolling Stone in an earlier interview that although "American Soul" is a letter to America, the advice in that song is also directed to himself. "In all of these advice type songs, you are of course preaching what you need to hear. In that sense, they're all written to the singer," he said.
Inspired by the Psalms, Bono has stated in a Fuller studio video series earlier this year that "brutal honesty" is key to life an art.
"We don't have to please God in any other way other than to be brutally honest," he said. "That is the root not just to a relationship with God, but it's the root to a great song. That's the only place you can find a great song. The only place you can find any work of art and merit."
U2 also appears on Lamar's critically-acclaimed album, DAMN.
In an interview with The New York Times earlier this year, Lamar spoke about the creative direction for his album. He said "God" is the "biggest missing component in life" so that is who the album will be focused around.
"I think now, how wayward things have gone within the past few months, my focus is ultimately going back to my community and the other communities around the world where they're doing the groundwork. 'To Pimp a Butterfly' was addressing the problem. I'm in a space now where I'm not addressing the problem anymore," he told the outlet. "We're in a time where we exclude one major component out of this whole thing called life: God. Nobody speaks on it because it's almost in conflict with what's going on in the world when you talk about politics and government and the system."
Lamar has infused his music in the past with examples of his faith. His albums Good Kid, M.A.A.D City featured prayers and To Pimp a Butterfly talked about God in the song "How Much a Dollar Cost?"
Lamar has also spoken about his faith being rooted in the Bible many times before, even crediting his grandmother for teaching him about the rapture.