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Kendrick Lamar Refuses to Attend GQ Men of the Year Event over Insulting Magazine Feature with Racist Overtones

kendrik lamar
(Photo by Santiago Bluguermann/Getty Images)

Remember that time when Kendrick Lamar refused an award from GQ?

Radiofacts: GQ Magazine recently featured rapper Kendrick Lamar on the cover obviously aware of his quantum leap in celebrity because of his recent verse on “Control.” The magazine dressed Lamar up and put him on the cover then insulted him as well as all of hip-hop music culture with a reporter for the magazine saying he was surprised at how “disciplined” Lamar and his team are as if Lamar needed a leash while being photographed. He made an even greater insult by saying… “Kendrick doesn’t smoke weed or drink booze. In the time I spent with him, I never witnessed anyone roll even the thinnest spider leg of a jay (joint), nor did I see Kendrick so much as glance at the many, many girls around him.”  The reporter was trying to sound like he had his ear to the street instead of his foot in his mouth.

Lamar and executives at his label, Top Dawg Entertainment, did not take the observation as a “compliment.” Indeed, it was an insult with racial overtones. Had they had any black writers in the editorial department for this feature, they would have been warned to cut that part out of the story. As a result, Lamar refused to attend the GQ Men of the Year party and pick up his top rapper honor last week. Other sources covering the mishap state GQ is miffed by Lamar’s response as if to say ‘what’s the problem?’ KUDOS to Kendrick and his team for taking a stand.  Unfortunately, we are not confident many other rappers would have done the same thing as Lamar.

GQ’s Editor Jim Nelson Responded:

“Kendrick Lamar is one of the most talented new musicians to arrive on the scene in years. That’s the reason we chose to celebrate him, wrote an incredibly positive article declaring him the next King of Rap, and gave him our highest honor: putting him on the cover of our Men of the Year issue. I’m not sure how you can spin that into a bad thing, and I encourage anyone interested to read the story and see for themselves. We were mystified and sorely disappointed by Top Dawg’s decision to pull him at the last minute from the performance he had promised to give. The real shame is that people were deprived of the joy of seeing Kendrick perform live. I’m still a huge fan.”

68 COMMENTS

  1. Hey GQ, I just spent time with a white male and not once did he refer to serial killing his neighbors, doing crystal meth or cheating on his taxes…not once! Now that is real discipline!

  2. GQ is messed up but, kevRoss, at the end you sounded like a sour-puss, like you didnt get a job at GQ or something….

  3. not a big deal at all. i cant believe an emcee working in the hip-hop game in 2013 could possibly be offended by those observations. i am a black man who grew up on hip-hop and i am not in the least bit offended. what offends me more, however, is hip-hop in 2013.

    • I agree! What are the bulk of rappers portraying: spoof-worthy buffoonery, weed smoking and verbally abusing women! Why are people acting like rappers don’t do this!? Rapping and hip-hop are so much more than this and not all rappers do this, but the bulk of them do! The writer should be COMMENDED for pointing out that Kendrick is not like these rappers! He knows the prejudices many of GQ’s readers have against rappers, and he’s setting the standard! Keeping his audience in mind and exposing readers to information they didn’t know! Not smoking or drinking is something Kendrick Lamar boasts about in his raps! It’s one thing he claims sets him apart as “the wise one” amongst his rapping peers! Commenting on this, the reader is exposing his knowledge of the subject of his article! The writer should be applauded and no one should take offense to this.

  4. Good for Kendrick! However, your argument that GQ’s covers feature no named white models vs. only black men who are big stars is completely false. Perhaps if your editor actually read the magazine, or even done a quick Google search, they would’ve found that ALL of the people featured on their covers are big stars.

  5. Its offensive and unfortunate that GQ would allow such publications To go out and also that the individual has been trained to sesee circumstance. However its not appaling for him to be surprised. If all you see is rappers partying drinking having sex and cursing, wouldnt you think thats how they behave. We dont call them actors do we? Weneed to stop playing victim to a situationwe are perpetuating. Offensive or not its a good gauge on the effectiveness and message of our music.

  6. None of the comments mentioned by this article have any racial overtones at all. The writer was surprised that Kendrick was tame, not high, and not covered in women because that is what he and other rappers rap about. Other black men have been on the cover of GQ and nobody wrote about the lack of drugs or profanity. That sort of conduct is expected from rappers, not black people. The majority of rappers happen to be black, yes, but GQ didn’t make that connection, this article did. Stop trying to make everything into racial issues so that you can point a finger.

    • Kendrick’s lyrics spell out very clearly that he doesnt smoke weed or drink really in a number of his songs. For god’s sake his album title is GOOD KID, MAAD CITY,,,,,GOOD KID!!! Why would the writer not expect a good kid??? He expected these things from Kendrick because he and his crew are young and black regardless if he said it or wrote it. It was an interview with GQ, a major corporate brand he was being professional as would any mature adult. If they had interviewed a porn star would they expect them to get naked and try to fuck people during the interview??? I dont think so. If the writer looked at him as an individual instead of lumping him in with every other young black rapper, he should have no expectations at all if the two never met.

  7. ok. as a young black man, I can say that ive always had a GQ subscription. Ive always liked GQ because of its fashion, but ALWAYS more so because of its progressivism and outreach to culture beyond wall street or white culture as THIS article claims. Ive ALWAYS seen black people on its cover and in its pages. And this was WAAY before Barack Obama.
    to the article itself. Ive loved hip-hop since big daddy kane. (rant: whodini deserves way more credit than they get). ive also seen the culture shift to what it is today and it glorifies drugs and women. that’s what rappers are known for is smoking weed and fin hoes. these are also habits that im not above. perhaps the writers observation didn’t need to be omitted since it points out the contrast between dude’s habits and the culture itself because it speaks to what helps to make this rapper special. perhaps dude could’ve done more homework on Kendrick lamar and it may be no secret that dude doesn’t drink or smoke, but keep in mind that the point of writing the article isn’t so that the writer can inform himself, its so that he can inform others. gq is not a hip hop magazine, its a fashion magazine and its readership may not all have listened to kendricks album or love hip hop, but i bet you they all have an opinion on the culture that might sound something like “all they do is glorify drugs and hoes”. i bet you he/she would have to look at it differently after reading the article on Kendrick.

  8. kevRoss, though you started a great argument be mindful that your linking of this, shall we say, editorial “slip” to only being identified had they had a black staff member still encourages the marginalization that is going. It’s not a question of black people looking out for black people’s interests, it has to be people as a whole (the DIVERSIFYING tip is for sure key) looking out for people as a whole.

  9. I don’t see a racial undertone in what was written. It had to do with him being a rapper in which the subculture constantly portray themselves as thuggish and unprofessional. They could have been featuring Eminem and it would still evoked the same shock and response due to the contradictory actions of the rapper. The fact that race was brought into debate is disturbing to me as it was not mentioned in the article. In this context, racism is produced by the reader whom chooses to view the article through a racial perspective. By taking this perspective you are attributing stereotypes that are meant for rappers onto black people which only reinforces racism and the validity of the stereotypes associated with being black.

  10. What are the bulk of rappers portraying: spoof-worthy buffoonery, weed smoking and verbally abusing women! Why are people acting like rappers don’t do this!? Rapping and hip-hop are so much more than this and not all rappers do this, but the bulk of them do! The writer should be COMMENDED for pointing out that Kendrick is not like these rappers! He knows the prejudices many of GQ’s readers have against rappers, and he’s setting the standard! Keeping his audience in mind and exposing readers to information they didn’t know! Not smoking or drinking is something Kendrick Lamar boasts about in his raps! It’s one thing he claims sets him apart as “the wise one” amongst his rapping peers! Commenting on this, the reader is exposing his knowledge of the subject of his article! The writer should be applauded and no one should take offense to this.
    -AVID Kendrick Lamar fan, South Central Los Angeles resident, USC Economics, BA recipient candidate (May 2014), rap and hip-hop music enthusiasts

      • Qualifying your statement with “AVID Kendrick Lamar fan” and “rap and hip-hop music enthusiasts” does not make you an expert on anything but liking a particular artist or genre. And it clearly does not mean that you understand anything about the nuances of veiled racism. This is directly in line with Bill O’Reilly’s comment about Sylivia’s in harlem where he said: “”I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship.” It betrays the whole notion of white America’s “civilized negro” complex. The fact that you don’t seem to grasp that concept perhaps put you in line with that majority? Also, noting the fact that you are about to receive a BA in Economics means what, exactly? That you have been to college? I know many, many people that have been to college that are still racists, friend. O’Reilly went to Harvard. You need to bone up on your social theory before someone hands you a diploma….

        • I am not an expert, nor did I EVER claim to be one. Quoting that I was a hip hop fan and Kendrick Lamar fan and from LA was to support the claims I made about his music and what he is known for! It is obviously easy to allege the author was being racist! If there was any speculation to this, there’d be no backing for THIS article online here that we are commenting on! I am just making the assertion that we are interpreting it wrong and are quick to pull that fucking race card! I damn well know the whole notion of white America’s “civilized negro” complex! The author of the GQ article is NOT making that assertion here! Quoting that I have a degree was not only pumping pride that I am a finally a Senior, but also supporting the fact that I am educated and not your typical LA ignorant, uneducated rap teen. Also by quoting my degree is supporting the notion that Kendrick’s audience is wide spread and appeals to gangsters and scholars alike. Even though I am not a racist, I never claimed NOT TO BE ONE with quoting my degree. Nor could you get that from my initial comment. We aren’t focused on MY racism, we’re focused on the GQ articles racism, from which I conclude are both not apparent either in this comment or in the initial argument. And “bone up on my social theory before someone hands me a diploma?” Are you serious?! You don’t know what my qualifications for receiving this degree are, nor can you gauge my knowledge of social theory.

  11. We don’t allow any mistakes in this country anymore. There is no longer any room for ignorance. Everyone is not versed in the complexities and variations of black culture. I understands TDE’s position, but I also know that before you learn, you usually make a mistake.

    • True, a way of learning is the hard way. But society is not a testing ground to prove what already existed and has been prolonged for for years. There is no excuse in allowing someone to generalize an entire culture, especially being considered as a reputable source. Its a shame that through all of the hierarchy and “expert” staff at GQ, no one has experienced or even could see how this type of racism could affect a people. The history is already completed, we don’t need another civil rights movement, to show people the effects of racism and its context.

  12. Oh please, if it was a black writer writing that nobody would’ve said a thing. and yes it IS news when a rapper is disciplined, doesn’t do drugs or weed, and doesn’t gawk @ every hot girl that passes by. You people claim to like hip hop but you all know how prevalent that is in hip hop culture. SO STOP BEING HYPOCRITES!!