Kendrick Lamar set the world on fire with his powerful, shackle-breaking Grammy performance on Monday (February 15) night. But did he steal the idea from someone else?
Philadelphia emcee Dice Raw alleges that K-Dot, perhaps unintentionally, stole many themes for the Grammy performance from anti-incarceration play “The Last Jimmy.” Dice Raw, known for his frequent collaborations with fellow Philadelphians The Roots, created the play as a counterpart to his concept album “Jimmy’s Back,” and productions ran in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Dice Raw, whose legal name is Ken Jenkins, told the Philadelphia Daily News that he watched the Grammys in disbelief as various aspects of his play were used in Lamar’s performance:
“I though Kendrick’s performance was good—I was watching/not watching—until I got a phone call asking me what I thought,” Raw recalled yesterday with a laugh. “Oh yeah, the prison thing. That’s a point. Then the gold cages onstage, yeah that’s another coincidence. Are those musicians in cages? OK. African dance in the middle of that montage—another coincidence, too.”
“My legal team and the production crew behind the L.A. performance took to social media very quickly and heatedly to say that Lamar has borrowed elements of “The Last Jimmy”—at least in their opinion,” Raw said.
Raw’s publicist Seandra Sims told the Daily News that his lawyers connected with Lamar’s representatives, though Raw wouldn’t elaborate on possible legal action. Representatives for Lamar’s labels—Top Dawg, Aftermath and Interscope—did not comment.
Raw, for his part, tweeted that he didn’t necessarily think Lamar was to blame:
I know Kendrick don’t know he bit my play but the person who told him to do that dose [sic]. I’m not mad @kendricklamar fightmassincarceration
— DiceRaw jenkins (@DICERAW) February 16, 2016
He elaborated on this point to the Daily News:
“Something stolen? I don’t know. If something did happen, I’d just like Kendrick to call me, you know. It’s sad that—if somebody took something. Maybe it happened subconsciously.”
“We’re both fighting the same fight. I’m sure the brothers who are incarcerated appreciate his efforts. Lamar and I can’t aim attacks at each other. The real enemy is unseen—who is pulling the strings behind mass incarceration and all this new Jim Crow madness. It isn’t Kendrick Lamar—he’s not the enemy,” Raw said, adding with a laugh, “…but maybe his choreographer is.”
Check out the clip from “The Last Jimmy” below and let us know what you think.