Last year, in response to Kendrick Lamar’s performance at the BET Awards, Geraldo Rivera argued that “hip-hop music has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism.” Like any good FOX News commentator, Rivera continues to stand by his nonsensical take — even when presented with irrefutable evidence and well-reasoned arguments to the contrary.
This week, Rivera sat down for an interview on SiriusXM’s Sway in the Morning. Promoting his egotistically titled new memoir, The Geraldo Show, Rivera first addressed the sexual harassment scandal that plagued FOX before Sway swung the conversation towards race relations. After talking about himself for a full minute, Rivera essentially blamed Trayvon Martin’s death on his height, hood, and the weather (“There’s no way [George Zimmerman’s] going to get convicted for killing that kid. It’s like a license to die”). He then brought up Kanye, arguing that his music “exalts the division” between races, unlike artists like Marvin Gaye who sang about “brotherhood and sisterhood.” Sway pointed out that Kendrick does actually talk about that in his music, which led them into DAMN..
Sway played the “YAH.” lyric that calls out Rivera, as well as the pundit’s Facebook response video in which he talked about how #BlackLivesMatter and Kendrick’s commentary “pales in comparison to the ghetto civil war that’s being waged.” Rivera proceeded to double down on his past remarks, saying straightly, “I believe that.” He continued,
“Now it’s cynicism and division. I don’t see any cultural force that’s helping to… I’m an integrationist. I want people to live together, to aspire together. It sounds so corny, even saying it sounds corny. But when you look at what happens in Baltimore today… I was talking about the ghetto civil war. The cheapness of life in too many American cities where a young black man kills another young black man and it goes un-noted. It goes un-noted because it’s not a cop that killed a kid. It’s so melancholy to me. I want ‘Brother, brother.’ I want that sentiment back.”
Later, Sway asked whether Rivera had heard any of Kendrick’s music beyond DAMN. “I’ve listened to everything,” the FOX contributor responded. “I’m more of a Drake man. I think he’s got a great balance. He’s got the edge, the urban edge that makes it really sharp. But he also understands that this is a big crazy world, and I think that his message is generally positive.”
Sway’s co-host Mike Muse questioned whether Rivera had actually listened to the rest of Lamar’s discography. Muse called him out for painting the rapper’s music in such broad strokes, saying that K.Dot has positive messages beyond “policing.” Rivera threw out a random JAY-Z mention to prove he’s hip before backtracking on his “I’ve listened to everything” comment and saying Lamar doesn’t have enough “celebration” in his music.
“I’m not a music critic. So I’m not going to pretend that I can give you the discography of Kendrick Lamar. I can tell you I’ve listened to many of his albums, I’ve listened to his music. His performances are not only theatrical, but very dramatic, and make a editorial point, I’ll think you’ll agree, that’s beyond the musical aspect. He’s making a political statement in these theatrical TV appearances on these various shows. I think he’s extremely creative, but he’s in a very powerful position. Compare him to Drake… I just think that I need positivity. I need reaffirmation that hard work and education and ambition are good things and they’ll be rewarded in this society wherever you come from. That’s the message that I try to present, and that’s what I don’t see enough of. I think there’s too much gloom and pessimism rather than celebration. To me, there’s more celebration in Drake’s music than Kendrick’s music.”
When Muse pointed out that it’s counterintuitive to make remarks about hip-hop artists being negative role models without having actually digested their full body of work, Rivera got defensive. He then spun out for another two minutes about his “enduring career” and how many people give him shout outs on the street. Suddenly I see why this narcissist is such a Trump thumper.
There’s nothing wrong with calling for positivity in music, but to slam an artist like Lamar for having a damaging impact on society when he’s simply speaking his truth is to be willfully ignorant of the issues he’s addressing. As if Rivera’s comments about race and crime weren’t cringeworthy enough. Watch the entire discussion below.