Kendrick Lamar’s new project, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, is garnering plenty of critical praise from fans and critics alike. However, Kendrick is facing backlash for featuring Kodak Black on his celebrated album.
Following the release of Kendrick Lamar’s fifth studio album on Friday (May 13), K-Dot fans jumped on Twitter to call out the Compton, Calif. rapper for featuring Kodak several times on the project amid the sexual assault allegations against him.
In April of 2021, Kodak accepted a plea deal and pled guilty to first degree assault and was sentenced to 18 months of probation. During his hearing, the South Florida rapper addressed the victim, who watched the proceeding on a virtual live feed. “I apologize this happened, and I’m hopeful we can all move forward,” he said.
Since the release of Kendrick Lamar’s new album, many people have slammed the former Top Dawg Entertainment artist for including Kodak on the project and trying to redeem a “problematic/toxic individual” through the topics on his album.
“I think that we’ve entered this annoying trend of ‘conscious’ rappers/artists thinking they are doing something enlightening and/or edgy by attempting to redeem and/or reimagine problematic/toxic individuals in society. Kendrick Lamar sadly chose Kodak Black on purpose,” tweeted journalist Ernest Owens.
“The betrayal stings because these artists think they are giving these trash ass individuals ‘grace’ in a way that society isn’t but they are actually perpetuating a violent cycle of divorcing them of true accountability,” he continued. “Why must Black women and others be denied justice?”
“The annoying part is that artists that know better should do better but somehow they get passes in the name of ‘being human,'” he added. “Somehow ‘being human’ keeps looking like collaborating with abusers and rapists, but never seeing solidarity with their victims. The hypocrisy.”
Owens went on to say that he didn’t see any meaningful value in a Kodak Black feature on MM&TBS.
“There’s nothing noble, complex, or nuanced about Kendrick Lamar giving Kodak Black another check, platform, and audience at a time when he continues to be embroiled in so much controversy,” he wrote. “Dude took a plea deal after being accused of raping a girl when she was in high school.”
Owens concluded, “So many of the themes of #MrMoraleAndTheBigSteppers is rooted in confronting trauma around sexual abuse and/or the presumption of such. The fact that Kendrick Lamar would include Kodak Black on that album is a ‘contraction’ that sours a lot of focus away from that exploration.”
A lot of fans shared Ernest Owens’ criticism of Kodak being on Kendrick’s album.
“I really love Kendrick Lamar’s album! And that being said, I hate the rapist is featured all over it,” a user tweeted. “I expected better on that front. Like seriously, Kodak is not that damn good for y’all to be ignoring the rape conviction idc.”