Photo by Sebastian Kim for GQ Magazine.
UPDATE 2: Oops. it seem that Rapper Of The Year Kendrick Lamar felt a way about the interview that accompanied his GQ cover story, feelings that prompted him to stand up the Man Of The Year dinner here in New York the other evening (see below). Seems it was not so much the stillborn Drake drama that most oulets reposted from the story that irked Kendrick–but instead the writer’s surprise at his and the Black Hippy crew’s discipline in the studio as well as a negative portrayal of his hometown of Compton. As the CEO of Kendrick’s label Top Dawg Entertainment Anthony Tiffith said in TMZ interview about the crew’s reaction:
“To say he was ‘surprised at our discipline’ is completely disrespectful … Kendrick deserved to be accurately documented…The racial overtones immediately reminded everyone of a time in hip-hop that was destroyed by violence, resulting in the loss of two of our biggest stars [Tupac and B.I.G.] … As a result of this misrepresentation, I pulled Kendrick from his performance at GQ’s annual Man Of The Year party.”
From this I take away to immediate reactions: 1) Kendrick stands out from the pack not only for his musical integrity but now for his disdain for the trolling, make-a-headline tactics that almost all artists are party to nowadays. 2) Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Tiffith aired out stereotypical and salacious portrayals of rap music in TMZ of all outlets? The medium is the message.
UPDATE: I feel fully vindicated by this Kendrick freestyle from the set of his GQ Man Of The Year photo shoot, which finds K.dot matching sartorial splendor with lyrical fury. If you weren’t feeling the moment before, scroll down and pop your collar to this.
I don’t know about blogs sometimes. Every other outlet is out here quoting Kendrick Lamar about how he’s still cool with Drake but also okay with not being cool if hypothetically they ever weren’t. Cool, I mean. Which strikes me as about as neutral a statement as a human could make. I mean, everybody loves a storyline. I get it. Yet…meanwhile, the interview being quoted is the cover story of GQ magazine’s Man Of The Year issue (yes they had their MOTY dinner here in NY last night. To see Patrick Stewart tweeting out pics of him and Questlove with Star Trek: the Next Generation jokes attached click here). Kendrick Lamar is GQ magazine’s Man Of The Year. The same kid about whom we were all wondering, a scant two years ago, whether he could translate the anger and brilliance of his mixtape tracks into a rap radio hit. Like, one hit. Isn’t that in itself enough of a storyline without worrying about whether he’s invited to Drake’s birthday? Isn’t it enough of a measure of how far Kendrick has met/exceeded/expanded the possible-next-Nas hype he was generating one year ago? Isn’t it enough of a repudiation of the ‘culture of winners’ mentality that the dedicated followers of fashion came to embrace the defiantly indie HiiiPower poster boy–instead of the other way around? Ain’t that a storyline?
I mean, a few caveats: Yes, he was ordained by Snoop & Dre since way back, it’s not like was raised by wolves or found floating down the Nile in basket of reeds but still. It’s what Kendrick has done since getting the magic cloud of incense waved over him that makes his rise so phenomenal. Yes, he’s sharing the split cover with Justin Timberlake. That’s not a story. Justin Timberlake is the styled-by-Tom-Ford cat you expect to be GQ MOTY. He was probably styled by Tom Ford at his middle school graduation. Kendrick is the kid you expect that only his close friends and family know how brilliant he was before he became a data point for a headline about gang violence (or police brutality). Yes, GQ has adjusted its style rules to become as much about hip-hop as hair gel and has rappers featured in the mag every other issue (including more than a few Okayplayers). But a feature interview is not Man Of The Year. Hell, even chart-topping, successor to The Throne Frank Ocean was only Rookie Of The Year. Kendrick is going for Rookie of the Millenium and fixated as fools are with Drake and the other names Kendrick called out in his “Control” verse…it ain’t the names. It’s the way he calls ’em. So when I see this cover story, the storyline I come awy with is this: Real Rap won.