After five years, Kendrick Lamar finally blessed eagerly awaiting fans with a new project with the release of “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.” While many have been quick to claim their favorite tracks like “Purple Hearts,” featuring Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah, and “United Grief,” the album’s opening track, another song is gaining traction for its powerfully personal story. And yet, it is not without its controversy.
In what is being called by some Twitter users as a “ground breaking” song, “Auntie Diaries,” the rapper tells the story of how he came to accept two trans members of his family. “My auntie is a man now / I think I’m old enough to understand now,” he raps in the first few lines. He goes on to recall his relative in the nineties, and the particular swag they possessed; the “‘93 Nissan,” the “gold chains” and “Air Max’s.” It’s easy to identify that as a kid, Lamar both respected and looked up to them, hoping that they would swing by to pick him up so he can “hang out in the front seat.”
Lamar also speaks on a trans cousin of his that he says followed his aunt “with the same behavior.”
Growing up in the church, he raps about how a pastor didn’t support his cousin’s transition, and how he later stood up for them. “I said ‘Mr. Preacher man, should we love thy neighbor? / The laws of the land or the heart, what’s greater?’”
One fan took to Twitter to applaud the artist.
“Kendrick Lamar dropped Auntie Diaries, a song about trans acceptance & intersectionality, while conservatives across the country are pushing a full on assault on all LGBTQIA+ people & their allies,” she wrote. “He didn’t have to do this - he’ll probably get shit for it - but he did. Powerful.”
While some are praising the song and the way the “HUMBLE” artist is among the first Black male rappers to seemingly embrace the trans community, the track is also being met with a bit of backlash. Some LGBTQ fans are calling out the song’s delivery.
For one, Lamar chooses to “deadname” his relatives by addressing them by the names and pronouns they used before they transitioned. Additionally, he uses a homophobic slur repetitively throughout the song.
“You can show growth and development without using a slur and blatant misgendering,” one person said. “[B]eing kendrick lamar does not excuse you from accountability.”
The song also deadnames Caitlyn Jenner who transitioned in 2015. “In what universe is deadnaming and misgendering remotely acceptable?,” another Twitter user questioned.
“okay as a queer kendrick lamar fan i’m gonna give my thoughts on auntie diaries:,” someone else wrote. “while i totally understand what kendrick was going for and think it was still a good track, this song could have and SHOULD have been handled way better. i understand he was talking about”
Perhaps the song is representative of one step forward and two steps back, or the other way around. But we’ll let you make your own call on that one.