Kendrick Lamar Stops Show For White Woman Repeatedly Rapping N-Word On Stage
Kendrick Lamar was performing at Hangout Festival in Alabama on Sunday night.
During his performance, Kendrick pulled a young woman named Delaney out of the crowd on stage to rap along to his 2012 track, "M.A.A.D City". Promising she knew the words, Delaney excitedly began to rap every lyric, including the N-word. Several times.
You can hear the crowd respond audibly and after about the third instance Kendrick interrupted the performance while the crowd booed.
“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, no, no, wait,” Kendrick said, pulling Delaney up for the use of the N-word and cuting the music.
"Am I not cool enough for you? What's up?" the woman asked.
"You gotta bleep one single word though," he told the woman who awkwardly apologised and asked, "Did I do it? I'm so sorry, oh my god," adding "I'm used to singing it like you wrote it".
There were many responses to the clips that surfaced across social media where fans were defending the woman, saying she was simply rapping the lyrics as Kendrick intended. But Kendrick is a black man, and his intent wasn't to give white folk the agency to throw around the N-word, especially not while holding a microphone in front of a packed crowd.
It's very easy for white people to have a knee-jerk reaction to cry out that it was unfair to put the young woman in that position. But was it really?
Last year a clip of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates went viral as he explained to a white student the effects of the N-word in rap.
In the clip, which has raked up over 3 million views on Twitter alone, Coates explains how our relationship to words and poses the question, "We understand that it's normal actually for groups to use words that are derogatory in an ironic fashion, why is there so much hand-wringing when black people do it?"
"When you're white in [America] you're taught everything belongs to you. You think you have a right to everything. You're conditioned this way -- it's the fact that the laws and the culture tell you this."
"So here comes this word that you feel like you invented, and now somebody will tell you how to use a word that you invented! 'Why can't I use it? Everyone else gets to use it... that's racism that I don't get to use it.'"
Using other examples from his life, Coates illustrates moments where he refrains from joining in using particular words because each word has a particular relationship to context, to those involved and that's where they get their weight.
"For white people I think the experience of being a hip-hop fan and not being able to use the n-word is actually very insightful. It will give you just a little peek into the world of what it means to be black."
"Because to be black is to walk through the world and watch people doing things that you cannot do. That you can't join in and do. I think there's a lot that can be learned from refraining."
Last month Kendrick won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his album DAMN. He was the first artist to win the award outside the classical and jazz genres. His music was described by the judges as capturing the "complexity of modern African-American life".
He was also nominated for 15 Billboard Music Awards and on Monday took home six awards including Top Rap Album, Top Rap Artist and the Billboard 200 Award.
Featured image: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for American Express.