Kendrick Lamar: “I Wanted a Darker Tone Woman in the Poetic Justice Video”Rappers are repeat perpetuators of divisiveness through colorism. Most MCs are unconcerned with representing women of all hues in their videos, opting for those with Eurocentric features. Others praise lighter-complexioned women in their lyrics, expressing disdain for those without culturally-appealing aesthetics. But a new crop of lyricists, including Wale and A$AP Rocky, are shifting this paradigm by being conscious of the women highlighted in their visual art.

The latest MC to shine light on the chocolate sisters is Kendrick Lamar. The acclaimed lyricist changed the woman cast as his love interest in “Poetic Justice” to address colorism. He told blogger Miss Info how important it is to him to balance his videos instead of adhering to mainstream industry standards.

“We had another girl for the lead but I had an idea where I just wanted a little bit of a darker tone [girl] in the video,” he said. “It’s almost like a color blind industry where there’s only one type of appeal to the camera. It was a girl on set and I said, ‘Ask her.”

He cast Brittany Sky as the main video model, but also expressed his love for all women.

“Not Light “Vs” Dark tho. More about “BALANCE”..Givn every shade of woman life, not jus what da industry thinks is “Hott” 4 camera,” he tweeted for clarification. “When u put the term light “Vs” dark continues it as a BATTLE. My point 4 poetic was to spark the idea of making it an EQUAL.”

All of our sisters deserve love, so kudos to Lamar for defying colorism and seeking equality. If other rappers follow him and his peers’ leads, it will be the dawn of a new direction for visual representations of hip-hop culture.

  • http://twitter.com/sabadaga SANDRA (@sabadaga)

    There is hope !!!

  • http://theunsungstoryteller.tumblr.com theMuseintheMirror

    This just made me smile!

  • The Moon in the Sky

    If the industry were colorblind, he wouldn’t have had to ask for a darker toned woman to be in his video.

    Kendrick Lamar is fake conscious. Doesn’t he refer to women as b*tches in his music?

  • http://twitter.com/star__kist mymica

    Kendrick is cool. But i feel like he shouldn’t have spoken up on this it makes it seem like he trying to get the “dark complexion audience”

  • Sam

    I hate that this is even a topic for dicussion. I feel like everyone is always reaching for something making an issue out of it. Things get blown up bigger than what they are or someones always trying be some kind of activist. Who even looks up to video girls!? I’m sorry but darker tones and women in general don’t need saving or artists being fake heros speaking up for us. We’re perfectly fine speaking up for ourselves.

  • Nick

    I dont mind him or his music but i believe He should just be quiet and make his money like the rest of them. No need to try and be DEEP and CONSCIOUS when your probably shallower than a paper plate. who are we kidding?…there are more B!tches in your lyrics than ants in a ant nest.

  • Mama Mia

    Well the girl in the video was mixed and doesn’t look like or represent the average brownskin black woman. Picking a mixed Indian brownskin/darkskin woman is totally different than picking a Black brownskin/darkskin woman. I congratulate him nonetheless for trying lol.

  • Echi

    Hmmm, why is it that I was expecting that since his request for a darker toned woman made the social media rounds that his love interest would like Alex Wek-black? Yeah, the girl, Brittany Sky is black, but given that this made the news, I expected to be shocked or something. Instead I was inundated with Chili (of TLC) – like baby hair and a man who regularly refers to women as bitches. Not impressed.
    Though, can’t wait for the day when these love interests are like rapper-black. You know, like Rick Ross-black or Wale-black – with wide noses, tightly coiled hair, and thick lips.

  • Kay

    I admit, I like Kendrick Lamar. I find his lyrics to be deep and meaningful and his new song “Swimming Pools,” is actually about battling alcoholism. I saw the video “Poetic Justice,” and saw that he had cast a darker skinned woman. I was a bit surprised to be honest, though elated. Not because I don’t think lighter skinned women are beautiful but because we need to see ALL of our beautiful women being represented, light, dark and in-between. That’s why when B.O.B.’s video for beautiful girls came out, I noticed he used a plethora of women to denote beauty, which was refreshing.

  • Paige

    For those of you complaining about her hair, the song says “young East African girl”. Now go look up pictures of East African women and tell me what you find. A lot of them have long hair and a looser curl pattern.

  • http://gravatar.com/deechagirl mypointiz…

    YAY! He chose a dark-skinned chick to be in a rap video!

    I guess he deserves a cookie now, eh?

    It’s rather sad when a dark-skinned man has to explain (to an Asian chick at that) why he chose a dark-skinned chick in his video, when in reality, he wouldn’t be caught dead with one with natural hair, big lips, wide nose, etc.

    another example ‘throwing a bone out to the sistas’ while feigning ‘concern’ and endearment.

  • lea

    i thought i was the only one who felt the same way

  • http://www.iamthenublack.com Gabi

    as much as I’d like to give kudos to Kendrick for doing this, when will the day come when black women stop looking to entertainers/celebrities for validation about their skin colour? How about we validate the people we actually know in our circles, our younger sisters, neices…heck even the older ladies we know. I dislike the thought of young women growing up and feeling as though what an rapper says about them is valid because it’s not.

  • I think the point that a lot of people are trying to make is that a lot of the blogs (black blogs in particular) are making it seem like this guy did something that was ground-breaking and like he is making a “black is beautiful” statement by casting a girl who looks like her when in actuality this girl really looks no different than the models that are usually cast for videos. He did not do anything outside of the “norm”.

  • CanV

    *Sigh* While I agree that we should validate our own girls on a daily basis I think a lot of people posting comments are missing the point.

    Media is very powerful and whether you like it or not a younger dark skinned girl watching this video may feel a little more beautiful because there is someone in it who is close to her skin tone. Darker skinned girls live in a world which repeatedly ignores their brand of beauty.

    I am not saying that Kendrick Lamar deserves a purple heart for his bravery and valor, but a little appreciation would be nice. Simply because he didn’t have to make the switch, he could have kept the lighter skinned girl.

    We darker skinned women complain ALOT we don’t like her hair, she isn’t dark enough…etc. But who knows maybe showing appreciation will open the door to the casting of more dark skinned women and then we will get to the point of wide noses, full lips, and kinky hair. Because many of these hip hop artist feel like they are putting themselves out their if they do go against the grain. The fact that this is even a topic, lets us know that what he did is against the grain.

    Appreciate that the effort was made, support it in whatever way you deem acceptable and get out there and find ways to help girls of a darker hue feel beautiful.

  • http://myfemalepersuasion.wordpress.com myfemalepersuasion

    I don’t think “black women” would have cared either way who he cast in the video. He’s making it an issue. Not us. We aren’t looking for validation.

  • http://myfemalepersuasion.wordpress.com myfemalepersuasion

    Kendrick said it wasn’t a light skin vs dark skin thing, but you would think that based on this comment forum. I guess I’m not that interested because I’m brown-skinned? No. I’m just over it.

  • http://myfemalepersuasion.wordpress.com myfemalepersuasion

    Thank you.

  • julib

    Now, I’m not trying to be a pessimist or anything, but I don’t see what the big deal is about this girl anyway. When I heard “dark skin” I was expecting…..dark skin. This girl’s features are considered “mainstream” beautiful anyway. She’s brown, and the lighting is dark, so she’s probably a little lighter in real life. I rushed to youtube because I thought I was going to see a Alec Wek toned 4z hair, very full lips girl. But it’s still a very nice video and she’s a beautiful woman.

  • Mama Mia

    “Brownskin” still falls into the category of ‘darkskin’. When people think of “darkskin”, the image of Alek Wek automatically pops into their head, while forgetting the likes of Gabrielle Union, also, fall under that same category as well. Medium Brown, or dark brown, it is still a “dark” skin complexion. Brown is a “dark” color lol.

    People kill me with the most they do in trying to disassociate themselves with ANYTHING considered dark. Just stating that you were “brownskin” just shows that you too suffer from the light-vs-dark skin “thing” LOL. Gimme a break.

  • apple

    she has african nose and lips what are you talking about???

  • Echi

    You mean East Africa like Kenya, Tanzania, or Uganda East Africa? Or are you referring to the part of East Africa which looks nothing like the majority of African Americans?
    I love it when people try to claim the part of black Africa that clearly does not represent the majority of black America – facial feature wise, in order to make their point.

  • chinaza

    Exactly!

  • http://myfemalepersuasion.wordpress.com myfemalepersuasion

    No. It states that it doesn’t matter to me. You missed the point – that it’s a ridiculous conversation. And then to break it down like I’M slow? LOL

  • E.M.S.

    Forget the rap industry, the community at large needs to stop with this ridiculous light vs. dark thing, especially with the women. Have you seen twitter? Team Light skin & Team Dark skin, really??

    The worst part about the existence of this war is how those of us who don’t participate in it are affected. I’m incredibly pale, so much that people are constantly asking if I’m half-white, and darker girls are alway throwing me dirty looks for no reason because they assume I think I’m prettier than they are, which I don’t.

    We need to come together as a community and get the hell over this ridiculous self-racism.

  • Ashley

    I think black women should be glad that these rappers do not want them in their videos. 99% of rappers videos and music are pure garbage.You women will not allow a random man on the street to disrespect you, so why will you let a famous man do the same by being in their videos and listening to their music. When rappers start having music and videos of substance and do not allow black women to be in them than complain.

  • Brittany

    There are light skin women with natural hair(think MJ), big lips, wide nose just like there are dark skin women with looser natural hair, smaller nose, smaller lips, etc. Blacks comes in different shades, shapes, hair textures, etc. Black women should start to put more darker skin black women in their videos and not wait for black men to do the same because we will be waiting for a long time.

  • JJ

    The girl looks black to me. Her nose is wide and her lips are full. What sets her apart I guess was a hair. That definitely didn’t look like perm, so I get it. Nonetheless her features are black. She didn’t look that different from Kendrick features wise.

  • AfroPetite

    First folks catch hell for picking women that are “too light” to highlight in their misogynistic music, then they can’t win for picking a girl who isn’t “dark enough”. There’s no pleasing everyone at the same time. Someone is always going to have issue with what constitutes “the right shade of dark complexions”.

    Should more women across the spectrum be represented in popular culture? Maybe so. Should people define beauty for themselves and stop picketing every random rapper who has his OWN definition of beauty portrayed in HIS music? Probably so.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    The model was gorgeous and stood out for sure. Though it was one step forward but still one step back why was the other cute model in the scene with Drake nearly naked with her bum out….this is a step but there still needs to be more progression in these videos (and someone give Drake a razor…)

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    And people keep complaining about her hair texture but their are black women with looser hair texture who are darker hues (Alek Wek’s color too) not all brown/dark skin women hair is kinky curly and on the same token not all light skin women have looser textures just like our shades our hair is a mixed bag too…shrugs Alek W. Is someone fierce but let’s be mindful she is not the standard on how all dark skin black women look. Let’s not fight one stereotype with another one…

  • b.

    Um, which East Africa are you speaking of because the one I was born and raised in (along with my sisters, cousins, Mama’s, girlfriends–you get the picture), girls did not and do not have ‘a looser curl pattern’. We have beautifully, tightly curled manes of love!
    Ask somebody (not google).
    ps
    I send this message with love:)
    pps
    EastERN Africa encompasses many nations–it’s important to note there are a VARIETY of hair types, however, EAST Africa comprises of three.

  • Ms. Write

    I tell you! There is no pleasing some people. We get upset that dark women aren’t represented in the media enough. Then when a rapper steps up and says he is going to put someone of a darker tone in his video we argue that she is “mixed” or “isn’t dark enough.” I. Just. Can’t. But I do agree with the comments here that mention that a bigger issue of HOW women are represented in the videos, i.e. objectification does still need to be addressed.

  • leelah

    he’s dark, don’t you think he notices the colorism?

  • http://thebrokejetsetter.com TheIgnorance!

    Wait. This person has a positive amount of likes? African nose and lips? Is this real life? I would love for you to look at me and tell me what kind of nose and lips I have because I too am AFRICAN. 100%.

  • harlem

    The objectification of women didn’t begin with rap music. Just saw a Hooters commercial and it is obvious that objectifying women is ingrained in our national culture.

  • Sasha

    I’m confused….granted I don’t watch music videos or listen to much rap music anymore but this “video girl controversy” is still a thing? How disappointing.

  • http://theafrolatina.com Kiki.Lightbourn

    I think it was great that Kendrick chose to cast Brittany as his love interest. It’s definitely something i noticed when I watched the video and applauded him for. This young man is doing a lot of great things in the rap industry and I hope that with all the positive feedback he’s getting from fans and critics alike that others will wise up and follow suit (in one form or another).

  • http://ladyngo.blogspot.com Lady Ngo

    THANK YOU!

  • Gina Wild

    «Ive never seen a woman who like Rick Ross or Wale and thank god for that.» Really? Why the diss?

    FYI, Rick Ross’ girlfriend is a really beautiful lady, and I’ve seen Wale’s past girlfriends they are cute too.

  • Gina Wild

    I commend Kendrick Lamar for using a brown-skinned African woman in this video.

    Still, he like many other rappers, uses BITCH as a SYNANYMOUS with WOMAN. So he’s no hero in that sense.

    Nas and Common have a dark-skinned woman (Bria Myles) in the video for “Ghetto Dreams”.

  • Mama Mia

    @Chilly Road

    I get what you are saying but my point was that I just didn’t see your average black girl. When I first saw her, the first thing I saw was an Indian girl. At certain angles, ahe does look Black. But otherwise, she just looks Indian to me. I wasn’t trying to be rude or discredit her heritage, but I seriously thought she was East Indian lol. Maybe I should re watch the video.

  • Gina Wild

    *Synonymous*

  • cosmicsistren

    @chillyroad – I have been reading this site for a while. It seems that most of your comments are so arguementative. Why are you on this site geared toward black women anyway. We come here to talk freely amongst ourselves. I might not agree with everything that is written but I rather it come from another woman and not you. It’s seems like you enjoy getting negative ratings on your comments. Can’t you go on GQ website or some male bashing female website to go to?

    To the editors – Why haven’t you banned this troll? He clearly is only here to stur up trouble.

  • Yb

    “I love it when people try to claim the part of black Africa that clearly does not represent the majority of black America”

    Thank you. It’s pathetic really. The majority of black people in the world are of west African descent or West African. The phenotype of West African represents the atheistic of the majority of black worldwide. Act like you know.

  • cosmicsistren

    Btw, Rick Ross had darker skinned models in his Diced Pineapples video. What Kendrick Lamar want a medal because he has one in his? Give me a break!!

  • http://gravatar.com/smileygirl86 smileygirl86

    Alek (not Alex) Wek is gorgeous don’t get me wrong on that note. But seriously he found an everyday around the way girl that fit the scene for that particular video. I am the same color as the model in the video with the same hair that grows out of my head naturally. Should someone be able to discount my blackness? I identify as a black woman because looks and hair aside I am a black woman. This kind of behavior is the reason why there is such a divide among ourselves. What I do take issue with is that while Lamar made a conscious effort of putting a darker skinned woman in the video he could make a statement altogether and not call women (of any color, race,) bitches at all.

  • http://www.notacookie.com laneé

    Yes!!! 1,000 times YES!!! I used to get upset when I see only lighter girls, hispanic or white girls in rappers videos but then I took a step back and thought…actually thats fine bc I’m tired of seeing black women degrade themselves in these videos. Women act like it’s a honor to be half naked in a video shaking their ass while a wack lyricist calls them a bitch over and over.

    And I love Kendrick, minus calling women bitches. Other than that he’s a great artist.

  • Guest1234

    I agree with you 100%. I’m a darker skinned woman, and I really don’t want a lady looking like me to be treated like T and A in a booty video. The exclusion of women who look like me from rap video booty shakin’ is not something I ever felt bad about. I kind of prefer it that way.

    Really. Are we supposed to clap our hands and give this dude a cookie for demeaning black women in equal quantities and regardless of skin tone? Some of these folks need to just sit down.

  • Shasha

    CanV- well said, thank you!
    It doesn’t matter what her hair looks like, bottom line is he did do something a little out of norm and you dont have to praise him but an appreciation would be nice. When was the last time you saw a brown-skinned girl in a video that wasn’t half naked bending over doing pilates just to get two seconds of screen time? I’ll wait. Thriller maybe??? He didn’t have to have a darker-toned female in the video, but he chose too and maybe other people will catch on and do the same. We should appreciate the fact that as African-American women, we come in so many beautiful variations and someone stepped outside of today’s norm to show that. But really it starts with us. We should stop being so critical of one another and appreciate the differences we have and start uplifting each other.

  • Shasha

    *to

  • Okay

    I think people have more of a problem with him seeming to have pulled a fast one. She’s dark……ok so is Mindy Kaling. I have personally known several very dark skinned indian people who would easy be mistaken for black if not for the straight hair. He wants people to sing his praises for picking a dark girl…..who most people confused for a dark Indian. Great that he is putting dark girls in the video but if she is confused for another race altogether when he blowing his own trumpet to make it seem like he is so in support of representing black women that well……look black. Does it really count?

  • Okay

    Sorry that’s ridiculous. Brownskin does not exist. There is just light and dark? When people say Brown they also mean people like Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah, Angela Bassett, Jill Scott, and Sena Lathan. They

  • Echi

    Nobody is discounting anyone’s blackness. The girl’s black, point blank. Like everyone said, based on how this rapper made this non-issue into an issue, many were expecting like a love interest totally against the video vixen norm. Like someone who could be mistaken for Alek Wek, a young Grace Jones, or even someone who bears some resemblance to many of these dark-skinned, wide nosed, thick-lipped rappers with coily hair.

  • kim

    kendricks girlfriend is latin btw…

  • Lilly

    Kendrick does not need an award for what he did. He is only saying the amount of women of other nationalities in music videos is disproportional to that of black women in music videos. Country, rock and other genres of music use non women of color. when Rap and R&B the only two genres dominated by people of color also uses other races it really leaves only a few women of color in videos. Most music talk about love, beauty, happiness and a video is Representative of how they want to display a meaning to their lyrics. It matters that rap and r &b try and incorporate women of color, darker tones bc they have failed to do so far.
    Imagine is rock and country music videos only featured black women in their videos, do you think the same people would buy their music, Caucasian society would be fighting to have their women in the videos.

  • Marcia

    How is that relevant?

  • MISS_EMCEE

    Right I was scratching my head at his comments. I’m like why would you incorporate some one in your video you wouldn’t date? That’s just as bad as black men who say they don’t like black women but, keep black women names in their mouth.

  • CanV

    I understand why it is relevant, but in a situation like this I feel it is best to go by what I call the reciprocation rule, which is: Is this man doing something that ultimately benefits me or would this man do something to benefit me? I ask myself this question before I extend myself or my resources to help ANYONE out. But especially men.

    I have never and would never do anything that would help or support Lil Wayne in any way. This includes buying a Drake or Nicki Minaj album. I am a dark-skinned woman so the reasons for this, I think, are obvious. But if an artist is willing to help uplift and put a dark skin woman out there, then that is something I could support. If he backslides or does or says something that is against what I stand for then he would lose that support.

    But I don’t think that it is good to get too caught up on who someone is dating. If it becomes a pattern, then yes I would reconsider that support. But I think it is more important for Black women to love who they want regardless of race and to make sure that they are getting the healthy love they deserve, than to sit around being concerned with who Black industry men date. Or who random Black men are dating in general. Do you and prosper; spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

  • Pink Lipstick

    I don’t understand why people are thumbing you down. A black man can date a non-black woman and still appreciate dark-skinned women’s beauty. Those activities are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, you cannot assume that he would never date a dark-skinned woman because his current girlfriend happens to be Latin.

  • Hate less

    You’re dumb. Stop being so critical. Go Kendrick Lamar!

  • Monique G

    I feel as though he did a good job, because all you see mostly is lighter toned women in videos, you rarely ever see a dark skinned beauty in videos, we are just as beautiful as a lighter women, no hate to the lighter women , but we are just a beautiful too.

  • Destiny

    So much jealousy in here..so sad

  • Black Man Hater

    I bet this is the first time you ever heard of this cat, because anyone who has heard his music knows that he IS conscious.

    He’s more talented, has a higher IQ, and will be eternally more significant than your man-hating self will ever be.

  • Youwishyoucouldbeme

    That was the first thing I noticed too. And that goes on a lot more than people acknowledge. She’s a beautiful girl, but is it really different?

  • Pingback: POETIC JUSTICE: DRAKE & EAST AFRICAN GIRLS « The Bullet Pen

  • lola luv

    I agree he is trying totarget the darker hue.

  • DjinnDjinnDjinn

    I am a year late to this discussion, but:

    I am what most people would consider “dark skinned”, not midnight black, but bronze. I have kinky hair, hardly any curl pattern at all. I don’t have a button nose, but it isn’t very thin; average.

    I say this because I am an East African girl.

    I feel where your qualms stem from, but I also think there is some confusion in your perspective. For every song praising East African women I can name two that praise African women from other places off the top of my head. Though I do acknowledge society’s obsession with European beauty, I also realize that Abyssinians have been around much longer than Europeans. That thin nose you reference is inherently of African origin first and foremost. Labeling those features European completely disregards the generations of African genetics from which they arose. That’s like invalidating the blackness of those features and the people who carry them, thus creating an intraracial divide.

    EA come in all different colors, shapes, etc; there is no one EA “look”. Prime example, Liya Kebede is beautiful, but I had no idea she was EA; she could literally pass as a black woman from anywhere, including diaspora. She definitely couldn’t pass for white though.

    In regards to Drake’s fetishization of EA women, it is just that: a fetish. This is a man who has had public tristes with Serena Williams & Rihanna, both women who have “typical” Black features. I don’t believe he means any harm, but that just happens to be what’s hot right now. In the 80s rappers were going crazy for the Grace Jones / Naomi Campbell types.

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