One of Fox News’ most notorious commentators and hip-hop cynic Geraldo Rivera didn’t appreciate the inclusion of his name in Kendrick Lamar’s “YAH,” and decided to speak his mind about it on his podcast that aired Friday (April 14).
The lyric in reference to which Rivera considers “benign” is the one where Kung-fu Kenny spits, “Interviews wanna know my thoughts and opinions/Fox News wanna use my name for percentage… Somebody tell Geraldo this n***a got some ambition/I’m not a politician, I’m not ’bout a religion.”
What transpired in the nearly 18-minute podcast following this minor mention of the commentator’s name is ostentatious in manner, to say the least. Rivera is reaching and grasping onto something to hold on to and it just didn’t cut it.
Rivera begins by denoting the incident in which he believes Lamar is reflecting upon in “YAH” to Rivera’s criticism of his 2016 Grammy’s Award Show “dramatic” performance in which he states: “In my view, that kind of performance is irresponsible.”
I’m sure the late, great Nina Simone would disagree in that, as far as her concern, the artist’s duty is “to reflect the times.” Approaching the Grammys in February 2016, the most recent time was 2015 – a year in which the deaths of black men were five times that of white men of the same age. Kendrick Lamar was reflecting the tumultuous and frustrating times of unarmed, non-threatening black people losing their lives to those sworn to protect.
Possibly the most problematic culmination of statements that Rivera made was saying that “hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years” and questioning the point of portraying the police as the biggest enemy—to which he refers to as “this rap way of thinking.” To answer the easier, latter inquiry, all one has to do is check the history of police brutality, surveillance and other forms of systemic injustice bestowed upon black and brown communities. That’s enough to understand Kendrick Lamar’s—moreover, any possible marginalized artists’ projected anger. As for the former, hip-hop saved Kendrick’s life and his father’s life as Kendrick narrates in the closing track of DAMN., “DUCKWORTH.”
K. Dot’s lyrics reflect the times, but his moves, his encouragement of self-love and positive impact on his communities are what inspires young black and brown youth to reach past the limit of the sky.