Kendrick Lamar’s “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers” Overstepped with “Auntie Diaries”

Rapper Kendrick Lamar released his latest album today titled “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers”. The West Coast rapper has been known for his vulnerable, provocative lyrics and powerful imagery within his music videos and his fifth album follows the musical formula that he’s known for. 

The album itself is full of pause-worthy moments, but one in particular has left a bad taste in the mouths of many queer and trans folks. In his song “Auntie Diaries”, Kendrick raps about his transgender uncle and cousin and the impact that their transitioning had on him and on his community. The song details how his community—specifically his church community—shuns his transgender family members, while Kendrick struggles to understand why, ultimately choosing to love his relative regardless of the discrimination his been told to dish out. 

Sounds like pretty standard familial support. While we need more folks vocalizing their love and support for the queer and trans members of their family, the song itself is coming under scrutiny for Kendrick’s use of the f-slur, as well as deadnaming and misgendering his relatives throughout the song. Lyrics from the song include:

“My auntie is a man now / I think I’m old enough to understand now”

“Back when it was comedic relief to say, ‘F*ggot’ / F*ggot, f*ggot, f*ggot, we ain’t know no better / Elementary kids with no filter, however”

My favorite cousin said he’s returning the favor / And following my auntie with the same behavior

Demetrius is Mary-Ann now

Of course, Kendrick isn’t the first rapper to use the slur in a song or display homophobic tendencies. The list is endless. Also, he’s not the only one to use the word with the intent to tell a story in a song that ultimately is used to uplift the LGBTQ community – think Macklemore’s “Same Love.” Not to mention this isn’t Kendrick’s first time having problematic raps towards the queer and trans community. Check out the lyrics from his song DNA.

I know how you work, I know just who you are / See, you’s a, you’s a, you’s a— / B*tch, your hormones prolly switch inside your DNA / Problem is, all that sucker shit inside your DNA / Daddy prolly snitched, heritage inside your DNA

While the “good intentions” and storytelling are there, the advocacy Kendrick displays for his trans relatives is like a double-edged sword that strikes the transphobes and homophobes in the front of the blade, but also hits those he aims to protect that are behind him.

Of course, the internet had some thoughts about this.

Yeah, we see what he tried to do, but it seems that the impact outweighs the intent here. We see the issue, but does Kendrick and anyone else outside of the LGBTQ+ community see it too?

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