Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN:’ Providing a message to the media via lyrical content




Kendrick Lamar released “DAMN.” April 14 and sonically, the album is pretty fantastic. There are slamming beats, great vocals and lyrical content fans have come to expect from K-Dot from albums like “Good Kid Maad City” and “To Pimp A Butterfly.” One of the most interesting things Lamar does on this album, to me, is his use of sampling.

While it’s not uncommon to sample movies or television, it’s a pretty new thing to hear Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera prominently featured on Lamar’s latest. Controversy was created after Lamar’s performance of “Alright” at the 2015 BET Awards, during which Lamar stood on top of a police car, reciting the lyrics, “And we hate po-po/Wanna kill us dead in the street for sure.”

Of course, Rivera responded with an idiotic statement, most likely a requirement for Fox contracts — “This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years,” Rivera said. “This is exactly the wrong message.”

Lamar responded, rightfully so, with more artwork. Rivera’s statements are sprinkled throughout “DAMN.” and the album features lyrical content relating back to Fox and the incident, including, “Fox News wanna use my name for percentage,” indicating the only reason Fox picked up the “story” in the first place was for ratings.

To me, these kinds of hilariously related incidents say something about hip hop and subsequent media coverage of the ever-growing art form. Can white journalists really speak on hip hop, police brutality and the condition of black Americans? Certainly not in any context without the possibility of coming across as racist, or prejudiced without presenting complete and total objectivity.

Rivera spoke without any sort of research or credibility and, frankly, showed his ass to the entire world. Lamar, ever the advocate for the lives of black men and women in the country, respectfully called him out. What could Rivera possibly know about the affect anything has on black youth? The man has a total net worth of 15 million, was born in New York City and makes obscenely large amounts of money for appearing on television and saying dumb things.

As far as organizations like Fox News exist, white pundits will continue to sit in the comfort of their newsrooms, as far removed from poverty and the struggles of black youth as they possibly could be. As long as artists like Lamar exist and aren’t afraid to speak their minds about how black lives truly are, I think we’re going to be alright.

Will Izzo can be contacted at [email protected].