One of the most-talked about moments from Kendrick Lamar’s new album Damn was when he called out Fox News and Geraldo Rivera on “Yah”: “Fox News wanna use my name for percentage […] Somebody tell Geraldo this nigga got ambition.”
The lyrics were in response to Rivera’s criticism of K Dot’s "Alright" performance at the 2015 BET Awards. Rivera accused the Compton rapper of spreading an anti-police message at time when tensions were high between the black community and law enforcement. Kendrick also sampled the journalist’s 2015 remarks in Damn’s opening track “Blood” as well as “DNA.”
Shortly after the project dropped, Rivera addressed the lyrics in a Facebook video. He insisted he “has no beef with” the artist, and considers him the most talented rapper today along with Drake; however, he doubled down on his criticism of Kendrick and the rap genre as a whole:
“I think too much of hip-hop, too much of rap in the last couple of decades has really portrayed the cops as the enemy, as the occupying army in the ghetto, in the inner city, in the urban centers,” he explained in the video. “It’s an us against them where this very popular, powerful art form, this poetry, is being used to really set young people, young minorities—black and Latinos, principally—against the officers who are sworn to protect them.”
Rivera said many rappers have perpetuated the anti-cop message over the years—before Kendrick was on the scene. He claims to understand why minorities are fearful when it comes police interaction, but states police brutality "pales in comparison to the ghetto civil war that’s being waged.” Rivera said lyrics like Kendrick’s do not help his communities biggest problems, and suggested people remember Marvin Gaye, “not the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac and the rest.”
“It’s the most negative possible message,” he said. “And what’s the point of it? I mean you sell records, I get that. I get that this stuff is popular, but it avoids the central reality, just as Black Lives Matter avoids the central reality […] The message that needs to get out there is that if you work hard, you can succeed despite the handicaps that you have.”
You can watch the full 18-minute video below.