Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Auntie Diaries’ Is a Powerful, Genre-Shifting Statement on Transphobia

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Jem Aswad Senior Music EditorOne of Kendrick Lamar’s great strengths as a rapper is his ability to acknowledge and criticize his own biases and prejudices and not place himself above the people he’s singling out.

It’s a characteristic that appears frequently in his work, particularly on his deep and dense new album, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” which arrived late Thursday some five years after his Pulitzer Prize-winning 2017 album “DAMN,” and particularly on the song “Auntie Issues,” which is a topic that few rappers have addressed at all, let alone with empathy.In the song, Lamar speaks of an aunt who’d become an uncle, and speaks of his challenges with it but primarily concludes that he loves his family and defends it to his friends.

He also effectively equates the politics and emotions behind slurs, particularly the n-word and the f-word, and points a finger at himself for not fully understanding the distinction when he brought a white girl onstage to rap one of his verses at the Hangout festival in 2018, and she used the N-word, as he does in the song.

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