When Kendrick Lamar dropped “Humble” with its accompanying visuals, he left us all shook. The single is sharp and poignant, as is characteristic of the rapper’s signature style. Fortunately for us, it's only a snippet of what was to come. We now have K. Dot’s third studio album, DAMN., and the full body of work is basically rap’s Lemonade. Yes, it’s that good.
One of the major conversations sparked by the release of “Humble” surrounded Kendrick’s commentary on women using Photoshop. What was most likely intended to be uplifting came off as backhanded judgement to some of us. It’s a theme that often permeates projects dedicated to Black empowerment without an equally solid grasp on gender. For many Black women, this shortcoming didn’t condemn Kendrick’s entire discography. Despite my critique, I paid $9.99 for DAMN. just like everybody else, helping the album debut at No. 1 on the charts.
My outlook on men like Kendrick is complicated and sometimes hypocritical, just like his views on women. To prove this, I went through the album line by line to see what else the rapper has to say about women. The gist of it is this: Kendrick has an amazing grasp on the complexity of women as mothers, romantic partners, daughters, friends, and nieces. It’s the women who fall outside of those familial ties who are often subject to Kendrick’s flatter musings.