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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” Riles Up Black Women

Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album, “DAMN,” which was digitally released on April 14 and physically released on April 21, is without a doubt the most polarizing album of 2017 so far.
Already considered to be his most complex collation of work, “DAMN” has divided fans and critics alike. Some hate it, others love it and will fight you if you say you don’t. However, perhaps no song on the album has been more debated than “Humble” has been. Listed as the eighth track on the album, “Humble,” written by Kendrick and record producer Michael Williams II, speaks to how black women must embrace their natural beauty, instead of hiding it or trying to alter it.
The music video for “Humble” gained widespread critical acclaim from many for speaking about black women free of misogyny and gratuity. Moreover, it also received backlash from black women who felt his choice for the video vixen, model Carter Kim, was not suitable for the role.
The song is a herculean effort on Kendrick’s part to shine a rare light on the features of everyday natural black women beauty: no makeup, big lips, stretch marks and all. Backlash, however, yet again found a way to rear its ugly head. Several black women took to social media to give voice to their outrage or annoyance as to how Kendrick could cast a half-black model in Kim as the epitome of natural black female beauty. Seeing as she is half Korean and white as well as black, many black women felt Kendrick pulled a typical rapper move when he chose a light-skinned black woman as the face of natural beauty of all black women.
Kendrick is one of only a few who tried to say something real about black women in a rap song. Think about that for a second. Black women and rap music. Women in general, but black women especially, NEVER get shown this kind of love in a rap song, which Kendrick was trying to give to them with “Humble.” It just makes me laugh a little when you put it all in perspective. Nobody gives Kendrick grief for using the b-word throughout the song’s eponymous chorus. Yet when he uses a multiracial model in his video, all of a sudden black women are ready to tell him “Bye Felicia.”
Lyrically, “Humble” is thought-provocation gift wrapped in black women empowerment. But it won’t be remembered as such, not until rappers (and music video directors) give in to the demands of frustrated black female viewers. I don’t think for a minute this is the straw to break the camel’s back, but I do believe it is a step toward that direction.
In my “humble” opinion, for many black men, it is very difficult to erase Eurocentric standard of beauty from their memory. For 398 years in America, that was the standard the white power structure told our ancestors they must judge themselves by. A devastating cycle that, with time and patience, will come to an end, but that time is not now.
Black women, if you take nothing from this article, at least consider this: don’t sharpen your knives just yet. Wait and see what happens when your favorite rapper (J. Cole, Drake, Lil Wayne, or whoever) puts out a pro-black woman song about beauty. If they, too, make the misstep Kendrick did, then by all means stab away my dears, stab away.