Man at His Best

How Kendrick Lamar Used Damn to Fight Fox News and Donald Trump

The most-anticipated hip-hop album of the year has arrived.

BY Matt Miller | Apr 17, 2017 | Music

Image from Getty

In February of 2016, Kendrick Lamar gave the most stunning Grammys performance of the decade. There, on music's biggest night, he stood atop a police car in front of an American flag, he broke out of chains, and he performed "Alright" during a contentious time in the country's history. In the days afterward, his performance did exactly what he intended: It started a conversation about race. Of course, there will always be people who don't fully understand.

After the Grammys, Fox News' Geraldo Rivera said messages like Lamar's do nothing but incite violence. "This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years," he said. "This is exactly the wrong message."

The song, of course, went on to be a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement.

A little more than a year later, Lamar has released his next full-length album (following the unreleased demos tape Untitled Unmastered). Damn opens with a handful of breathless tracks full of pent up confidence and ideas. One of these is "DNA," which after the opening verse samples Rivera's Fox News rant.

On the next song, "Yah," Lamar raps, "Fox News wanna use my name for percentage / My latest news is my niece, she's worth living / See me on the TV and scream that's uncle Kendrick / Yeah, that's the business / Somebody tell Geraldo this nigga got some ambition."

Fox News returns later in the album album on the U2-featuring "XXX," Lamar mentions Donald Trump, then says, "You overnight the big rifles then tell Fox to be scared of us / Gang members or terrorists..."

His most stunning political verse on the album, though, is his story of election night and what comes after on "Lust":

We all woke up tryin tune to the daily news / Looking for confirmation hoping election wasn't true / All of us worried, all of us buried, and the feeling's deep / None of us married to his proposal, make us feel cheap / Stealed and sad, distraught and mad, tell the neighbor about it / Think they agree, parade the streets with your voice profit / Time passin, things change / Reverting back to our daily programs / Stuck in our ways / Drones

Here, he ties together the news cycle, Trump, and the fundamental changes to our country and our democracy has undergone since he last released an album. This is the message we've been waiting for.

From: Esquire US


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