Kendrick Lamar performs at the Hangout Music Festival in Alabama this past weekend; Photo: Hangout Music Festival/Twitter 


During his set at the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist Kendrick Lamar invited a fan onstage to rap to “m.A.A.d. city.” While a little unorthodox considering the magnitude of the performance, it’s not totally uncommon for a rapper to do something like this as it would be a superfan’s dream come true. But things didn’t quite go as planned.

The fan who was introduced as Delaney (and is white) began rapping, and all was going well until she reached the hook which goes:

Man down, where you from, nigga?
Fuck who you know! Where you from, my nigga?
Where your grandma stay, huh, my nigga?
This m.A.A.d city I run, my nigga

As soon as she dropped the n-word the crowd started jeering. After doing it a couple of more times Lamar stopped her and said, “You got to bleep one single word though.” After apologizing she was given a second chance, but muffed it up yet again to which Lamar thanked her and announced that “it’s over.”

Late last year Ta-Nehisi Coates gave an interview at Evanston Township High School explaining why white people should not use the n-word. He said that each group has a different way of referring to each other that is exclusive to them like derogatory terms or phrases used in an ironic way. “My wife with her girlfriends will use the word ‘bitch.’ I do not join in,” he said. “And perhaps, more importantly, I don’t have the desire to.”

With racial politics being such a mercurial topic, many fans wondered why Kendrick Lamar would invite a white fan on stage knowing that the most recognizable part of the song (the hook) contained a derogatory slur. Some have called it a publicity stunt, while others looked at it as another case of a white person overstepping their bounds.

Whatever side you land on, one thing is for certain, we are a long ways away from social harmony.