Kendrick Lamar is a phenomenal storyteller.

He understands that human emotions are complex, but he also understands how to elicit those emotions from his listeners. Kendrick’s song FEAR. is the epitome of his ability to employ his own story in an effort to help the listener better understand their own.

While the manifestations of our fears may differ, Kendrick illustrates three elements of fear that affect all of us, regardless of circumstance.

These elements bond the emotions that stem from our experiences; they illustrate the similarities in the human experience rather than the differences.

A closer look at the elements of fear presented by Kendrick can help us better understand each other and help one another embrace love rather than fear.

Elements of Fear

Kendrick presents three elements of fear as he experiences it:

1. Environments structure fear

Fears manifest themselves through the tangible aspects of our environments. Kendrick gives examples of his fears such as untrustworthy accountants and the possibility of death stemming from his environment. The nature and demands of the environment we inhabit structures the manifestation of our fear. The surface level of people’s fears differ as their environments do.FEAR copy2. Hierarchical power structures induce fear

Power has the ability to induce fear, and we all operate in hierarchical power structures. Kendrick uses his first verse to convey the fear of being punished for doing things that contradict the wishes of an authority figure. Fear is less poignant where power structures don’t exist. FEAR_2_copy3. Fear is relentless

Fear does not go away. Fear does not retreat. Kendrick’s fears evolve through the song. The song seems to follow a progression by which Kendrick’s fears evolve from those induced by power structures and environments to those within his own mind. Fear does not retreat, it evolves. Luckily, our ability to cope can evolve along with it.FEAR_3_copy.jpg

Is fear specific to the person experiencing it?

While Kendrick’s experiences are unique from my own and the fears he encounters may differ from my own, the experience of fear itself is something that I’m familiar with.

Fear is an emotion inherent to the human experience. All humans fear in some capacity.

The three elements of fear conveyed in Kendrick’s lyrics are aspects of the emotion that everyone human encounters. These elements transcend circumstance and status. All humans have experienced fear induced by power structures and their environments; all humans fear regardless of where they’re at in their lives.


Kendrick’s understanding of fear’s impact on the lives of all humans bridges the (perceived) gaps of humanity.

Fear is one of the great commonalities of human nature.

Knowing that everyone experiences fear can be incredibly grounding; you have fear, Elon Musk has fear, Hillary Clinton has fear, the high school freshman has fear, Kendrick Lamar has fear, Beyonce has fear.

Fear is unique to nobody. Fear may manifest itself in different ways, but the feeling itself is present in all of us.

While we may suffer from our fears, we can help ourselves through it by understanding that everyone fears and that we are not alone.

The Antidote

Kendrick’s music effectively conveys a story that we can relate to, even though we may not be able to identify with the experience itself.

Our experiences may differ, but our emotions often come from the same place.

We’re more similar than we are different, and sometimes that means that we’re all afraid.  Fortunately, we all have experience with being afraid, and we can help each other through our fears.

We can be grateful for the opportunity to better understand each other and combat the effects of fear with its antidote: love.scannable-document-on-jan-27-2017-9_54_21-pm

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *