Was Kendrick Lamar’s Epic Grammy Performance Stolen From Underground Rap Legend DICE RAW? [Rumors]

Was Kendrick Lamar's Epic Grammy Performance Stolen From Underground Rap Legend DICE RAW? [Rumors]

Kendrick Lamar

By Jack Barnes

Few can argue that Compton’s Kendrick Lamar delivered a soul-stirring and memorable performance at last night’s Grammy Awards. The To Pimp A Butterfly emcee walked away with five awards, solidifying his best year as an artist yet.
 
However, it was his performance of “The Blacker The Berry” that left the audience stunned and Black Twitter on fire. The imagery of the plight of Black men caught in the correctional system was all-too-familiar in 2016’s “new Jim Crow” era…but for one rapper, namely underground rap legend DICE RAW, the scene was way too familiar.

Leigh Ann Hann, Artistic Programmer for L.A.’s La Grand Performance where, in Summer 2015, 3,000 people attended the performance of a Hip-Hop musical co-written and starring Dice Raw, took to Facebook immediately after Lamar’s Grammy performance and said, “Not to detract from the value of Lamar’s work – and certainly not the incredible musicians who contributed – but whomever conceived, styled, blocked and choreographed this segment must have seen Dice Raw’s “the last jimmy” at grand performances last summer.”

As background, Dice Raw, the rapper, singer-songwriter and producer, has three Grammy nominations of his own for his longtime work with The Roots. Since 2013, he has been working to shed light on the country’s mass incarceration epidemic. And, he received critical acclaim for adding yet another poignant, though somewhat under the radar, concept album, Jimmy’s Back, to his credit.

Wendell Patrick, winner of numerous arts grants who served as Dice’s musical director for the album’s companion play “The Last Jimmy”, also took to social media and had some interesting thoughts about Kendrick’s performance vs. Dice Raw’s play: “About five seconds into Kendrick’s performance last night, I said “hold up…wait a second…what’s this?”

“I had the honor of musical directing Dice Raw’s “The Last Jimmy” at Grand Performances in Los Angeles last July,” says Patrick. “There were about 3,000 people in attendance. We had musicians in what appeared to be gold jail cells (check), dancers in prison outfits (check), Dice paraded out in chains around his wrists (check), African dance transition (check), a large back-screen projecting Africa (check).

“The production was something Dice and the company had worked on for two years, and they had some success gaining traction, hence the Los Angeles show, which was my first show with them as musical director…with the idea of taking it to Broadway in the future. And now I’m reading lots of posts about how ‘Kendrick should take his show to Broadway!’ I have mixed feelings. The performance last night was great, and, if the elements were copied, I doubt Kendrick would have had any knowledge of it. I just don’t want to see what “The Last Jimmy” creator Phillip Brown and Dice Raw have worked on for three years just be taken from them simply because someone has enough resources to take an idea and present it to a much larger group of people.”

Reminds Patrick, “People often say imitation is the best form of flattery. It’s only flattery if people know you were imitated. This type of thing does happen.”
In light of the controversy, Dice had this to say:
In light of Kendrick Lamar’s performance at the Grammys last night, I felt it necessary to address an issue that has grown into a potentially unnecessary beef and contention between me and my brethren.  
 
The issue is Kendrick, who I deem as a brother and fellow solider in this fight against mass incarceration, performed his song, “The Blacker the Berry, ” in the theatrical setting/elements of what appeared to be gold jail cells, wearing chained cuffs around his hands, dancers in prison outfits, musicians inside of jail cells, an African dance transition and a back-screen projecting Africa – all of which shockingly matches the artistic elements that I use my musical that I co-created over two years ago.   
 
Many of my Hip-Hop fans and industry folks, along with my co-creator of ‘The Last Jimmy’, Phillip Brown, have been blowing up my phone asking if Kendrick Lamar had ever seen or is aware of my musical, because there were so many spot on “coincidences”.  In response to those questions I have to honestly say: I don’t know. 
 
However, I also have to say they the questions raised are relevant questions that I have as well.  Again, I want to be clear that I do not have a beef with Kendrick Lamar personally, but his creative team and or producers around him and the Grammy’s might want to give an ear to the murmuring online for both his and my artistic integrity. 
 
Lastly, I want to say that I love the fact that we as brothers are united around the most critical threat to our race today. If we are going to truly win this fight, we cannot allow media power, “industry friends”, or ambition stop us from supporting honoring original artistic creation and content. I encourage everyone to please weigh in and share your opinion on what are now only questions…
Fans and industry vets are speaking up and demanding that Dice get recognition, including Facebook fan @rickyfurek who said, “Wow.. This guys integrity is on a whole nother level..   If you have seen Dice Raw s play then you know that #kendricklamargrammys #kendricklamar completely stole creatively from #diceraw #thelastjimmy id love to hear this explained away after anyone watches both performances. Kendrick lamar. If you didnt know you were stealing creatively.. Someone mislead you.. If i was dice Raw id want to get paid for the theft.. But seeing how this guy is.. He probably just wants a thank you.”
Was Dice’s concept stolen? The proper people are being contacted, and time will tell. It looks to me like someone has some explaining to do.

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