By Dale St. Marthe
Just like those rope-heads in his video, Kendrick Lamar set the internet afire with his newest track “Humble.”
The religious iconography, the cutting wordplay, and the bounce of the beat made this a song an automatic artistic banger. I know I was in my ride like,”Whaaaaaat.”
However, intermingled with all the praise he is receiving on social media for this new track, there is a heated debate surrounding one part of his song in particular. In his second verse Kendrick says,
“I’m so fucking sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks
Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks”
This was accompanied by a visual of a woman going from this “Photoshop” look to a natural look.
To me and a whole bunch of other Twitter users, this was a harmless uplifting part of the song directed to women basically saying to stop being fake and celebrate your natural beauty. Now this is very different from the things many other rappers say for example Future’s song, “Lay Up,”
“I fuck on that bitch and we lay up
I passed her off like a lay up
I tripled my cups like an addict
She come through late night on them Xannies
Don’t tell me you back in that action”
Now I gotta look at her like “Hey uhh, just so you know you’re not a bitch and I wouldn’t ‘pass you off’ to my friends just so you know… for future reference…oh and also I wouldn’t take advantage of you when you’re clearly under the influence fyi. That’s sort of illegal…”
That moment when you have to put a disclaimer on your whole playlist and feel embarrassed in front of your lady friend.
The irony is that many Black women are tired of what’s referred to as “fake support.” They feel like Kendrick’s lyrics were low hanging fruit on the support tree. One twitter user described his lyrics as “hotep.” Meaning, he’s exaggerating his social consciousness and imposing expectations on Black women to be “natural African Queens” when the choice is completely up to them.
I honestly don’t care for Kendrick.I like my misogyny blatant and blasting over a trap beat. Not covered in a dashiki and incense.
— Jasmine Sanders (@JasMoneyRecords) March 4, 2016
“Dashiki and incense” as well as a “natural” look are hotep essentials.
Another argument brought up by Black women specifically, is the over-sexualization of the whole thing. Why is Kendrick always talking about sexuality when it comes to women? Why are Black women always put in a more sexual light in hip-hop altogether? Urban Chameleon women experience this hyper-sexualization constantly from both sides of the aisle.
“Hey I thought chocolate melted in hot water? Hahaha I’m just kidding I’m Gary and you are?” pic.twitter.com/UaWxwVgEbT
— WORLD STAR FANS (@WorIdStarComedy) September 4, 2016
White guys be cringey as hell too.
Most critically, people are saying Kendrick Lamar should use his platform to bring attention to more important matters concerning black women. Such as the missing Black girls who have only recently gathered some attention. As a “conscious” rapper, one who claims to be the best one alive, he should have the capability of portraying Black women in more than one light.
For all of his supposed brilliance that y’all assign to him it would be nice if he knew that black women didn’t exist on two spectrum ends
— Sierra (@SKEEerra) March 31, 2017
My personal opinion of the matter sides more with Kendrick. The backlash he is receiving is directly related to who he is. All of this rhetoric should be directed at every other male rapper in the game. Such as the group “Migos” who like using every derogatory synonym for woman in the book.
Kendrick: I value women’s natural beauty
Twitter: MISOGYNY AND SEXISM!
Migos: fuckin on yo bitch she a thot thot
— E-Hill (@Hillboy_usa) March 31, 2017
Because Kendrick is woke af does not mean he has to be the voice of wisdom! Yes he likes to tell white people about themselves, but none of that means he is not liable to overlooking certain pressing matters.
Still even with his oversight, Kendrick managed to reach an audience that needed representation in the media.
Didn’t realize how much I wanted to see an ass like mine represented until I saw that ass w/ stretch marks in Kendrick’s video #Humble 🙌🏾😭
— Bob The Drag Queen (@suzie_melonz) March 30, 2017
If his message was “do whatever the hell you want,” it would not have the impact of straight up saying stop mis-portraying women in popular media. It would not have reached somebody insecure about their body. His message was simple by itself. The larger problem should be put on larger shoulders, such as all other male artist. The next time a Black male rapper names their album something like “Culture” (yea I’m looking at you Migos), maybe just a little bit of the same critical beam should be placed upon them.