On Monday, Kendrick Lamar performed at the CFP National Championship game in Atlanta, GA, marking the first-ever halftime-show performance in championship-game history, breathing life into a slot usually reserved for, like, marching bands. President Donald Trump was also there. The internet questioned (or rather, anticipated) conflict between Lamar and Trump...or at the very least, assumed Lamar would address the President in some transparent way. Unsurprising to anyone whose followed Lamar’s career, nothing happened. And no one should’ve expected it to.
The Compton-born rapper looked frozen (check out that coat) as he performed a number of singles from DAMN.: “DNA.,” “ELEMENT.,” HUMBLE.,” and his new track “All The Stars.” It turns out, President Trump didn’t witness the performance, because he wasn’t even there—he was at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta where the actual football game took place, while Lamar’s halftime performance occurred at Centennial Park downtown.
A CNBC reporter tweeted that Trump left the game before halftime, too, so this was really much ado about nothing:
Why did anyone expect a showdown between Kendrick and Trump? For one, Lamar is no stranger to political posturing. He quoted Fox News on “BLOOD,” the opening track from DAMN., and his 2015 song “Alright” became a Black Lives Matter protest anthem. The black American struggle is prevalent in his music, sure, but he isn’t a radical activist. When Rolling Stone asked Lamar about Trump last year, he offered limited critique of the Trump saying, “I mean, it’s like beating a dead horse.”
It’s worth noting, too, that the National Championship game was broadcasted on ESPN, which is owned by Disney. Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment are the providing the soundtrack to The Black Panther, a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is also owned by Disney. It’s unrealistic to have expected any semblance of black radicalism from him at an event that really only serves to give boldface capitalism a platform. Disney probably wouldn’t have it that way. Sorry guys!