Kendrick Lamar Speaks For The 1st Time About Why He Stopped A Fan From Using The N-Word
Kendrick Lamar made headlines earlier this year when he checked a fan at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama for using the N-word while rapping along to his 2012 non-single hit “M.A.A.D. City.” The fan, a white woman who introduced herself as Delaney, was pulled up on-stage to help rap along to the song but then stopped by K-Dot and informed that she needs to know “the rules” when rapping words like “my ni**a.”
The moment was both cringe-worthy and educational, as the show-goer admitted she was unaware of the slip. The biggest Hip-Hop star of the moment informed Delaney of the rules, her place, and eventually offered her a chance to apologize and take another try at things.
Ever since that incident, Kendrick Lamar has not spoken publicly about the matter, until now. In a multi-day interview for a Vanity Fair cover story, the TDE superstar (and part owner) explained why hearing any interpretation of the n-word from a white person irks him, even if they’re doing it in the context of a fan rapping along to his lyrics.
“Let me put it to you in its simplest form. I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do,” he states. “Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city. So many things—’you can’t do that’—whether it’s from afar or close up. So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.”
On the topic of “M.A.A.D. City,” Kendrick remembers making the MC Eiht-assisted track and how it affected his neighborhood at the time of its release. “That was our world,” he explains. “I remember when good kid… came out, the people I grew up with couldn’t understand how we made that translate through music. They literally cried tears of joy when they listened to it—because these are people who have been shunned out of society. But I know the kinds of hearts they have; they’re great individuals. And for me to tell my story, which is their story as well, they feel that someone has compassion for us, someone does see us further than just killers or drug dealers. We were just kids.”
When speaking about the neighborhood he grew up in and the violence that’s still persistent within, Kendrick Lamar explains why not all who commit crimes in Compton are inherently violent. “I have compassion for, and more understanding rather than frustration with my homies, because I know it’s not 100% their fault,” he says. “When I look at how society has shaped our communities, it’s been generations passed down of putting people in cages to battle each other.” He talks about the survivor’s guilt that is a recurring theme in his songs and says, “I had three or four years of success and celebrity, but I can’t get rid of the 20 years of being with my homies, and knowing what they go through. I can’t throw that away. I know a lot of people who could—I’ve seen it—like ‘F*ck you, I’ve got money now, I’m outta here, I don’t give a f*ck about none of y’all.’ But that was something I couldn’t deal with. I had to sit back and analyze it and [figure out] other ways I could impact these people without physically trying to bring the whole hood inside a hotel.”
Most recently, Kendrick Lamar, along with his Top Dawg team, have been working their influence within the music industry. In late May, reports surfaced that major names in the music industry were criticizing Spotify for its “hateful conduct policy,” which many viewed as a form of censorship. Prior to that, news broke that the music of R. Kelly and XXXTentacion would be removed from its major playlists because of their behavior and allegations of sexually predatory behavior. Subsequently, in early June, TDE founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith confirmed he was involved in talks with Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek, which lead to the streaming service backing down on its policy of punishing artists for non-music related offenses.