Recently named Rapper of the Year by the notorious GQ Magazine, Kendrick Lamar has come across a bit of controversy. Not very happy with the way he was portrayed in the Men of the Year issue, K. Dot decided to take a stand and skip the GQ Party held this past week.
As we all know, Kendrick Lamar is from the tough streets of Compton. This is a fact that is portrayed in all of his music, conversations and even wardrobe. So, GQ writer Steve Marsh decided to focus on this fact during a recent interview with Lamar. Unfortunately, there were a few moments during the interview that people are beginning to question and pinpoint as racial undertones. Therefore, Anthony Tiffith, Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) Head, made the decision to pull Lamar’s name from the GQ Party guest list.
Marsh made it clear that he wanted to compare and contrast Lamar’s past and present. Marsh talked much about Lamar’s recently deceased friend Chad Keaton who died from complications due to a gunshot wounds. He also focused on Lamar’s old stomping ground and the demeanor which we assume a Compton native should possess.
At one point, while focusing on Lamar’s characteristics, Marsh said “…it felt like I was talking to a wizened rap Jedi,” somewhat as if rappers aren’t wise and Lamar being well spoken and knowledgeable comes as a total surprise, at least that’s how I read it. Then, Marsh was in discussion with Tiffith, as he explains in the original article, Tiffith asked if he (Marsh) had had a fun filled day, and his reply was “I was surprised by their discipline. ‘You guys seem so calm'” This is where the problems seem to lie. Not only does Marsh make it seem as if rappers are far from wise but rappers and Compton natives alike are constantly rowdy and out of control.
Now, if you want to know my opinion, here it is. I do not think Marsh was attempting to be racist/classist or what have you however, this story most definitely could have been portrayed in a different light. Unfortunately, because Lamar is from Compton and refused to let us forget it, there will be times when a journalist will only want to focus on the stereotypical Compton native and the fact that Lamar differs from those stories that we all hear. I mean, let’s be honest, many of us have NO clue how it is to grow up in such an environment. And, the fact that Lamar is from the heart of the it all yet greatly differs from what we assume a black male from Compton should act, it kind of blows people’s mind.
Do I believe this is being blown out of proportion, kind of. I completely understand why the TDE camp is upset. The story does focus a lot on his troubled past and is somewhat ignorant to the fact that not all rappers and/or Comptonites (I think I just made that up..?) are the same. However, if you continue to fill our minds with the troubling stories of stealing your mom’s mini van to visit Sherane and almost catch a case in the midst of it all, be prepared to be questioned about it and be prepared to fight the assumptions.
In closing, this is definitely not a jab at the TDE camp, Kendrick Lamar and/or GQ because I am a fan of all three. However, this is a mere observation of the industry and consumers taking an inch. Read the original article and tell me what you think. Do you sense racial undertones or simply a journalist stating his observations? Do you think people are taking it all too seriously? Or, do you completely agree that this story focuses too much on Lamar’s past?
Ps. I absolutely love Kendrick Lamar and his lyrical talent however I must confess, I absolutely hate the majority of the pictures used for the article on the website… I can’t take it! lol
But, this one… this one is nice 🙂