Students react to recent controversial performances from Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar

Lauren Rathmell Diversity Reporter

In less than two weeks, singer Beyonce and rapper Kendrick Lamar sparked controversy through social media with their recent performances.

After the release of her single “Formation,” Beyonce joined Coldplay and Bruno Mars at the Superbowl halftime show last week. At the 58th Grammys, Kendrick performed “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright,” illustrating a new way to celebrate Black History Month.

In Lamar’s performance, he entered in with a blue jail uniform and shackled to a line of his male dancers, also in prison uniforms. His female came out in neon paint patterns in traditional African styles. His prison blues revealed the neon patterns as well, showing a sense of African pride.

“I thought the performance was deeply powerful,” junior fine arts major Chloe Fuzzell said, “Having pride in your heritage is important, and it’s part of being in this country.”

Kendrick’s performance has received praises from celebrities like Justin Timberlake to a tweet from The White House. 

During her Superbowl performance, Beyonce donned a military-style outfit, reminiscent style of clothing worn by the Black Panthers.

“I feel like the (social media outrage) was expected,” said senior communication studies major Tiffany McMullen. “Obviously that’s what they were going for when they chose their outfits and the color scheme.”

Senior physical education major Nick Johnson didn’t see an issue with the performance.

“Her job was to put on a show, and she did,” Johnson said. “I honestly don’t think she did anything wrong.”

Beyonce’s “Formation” and Kendrick’s “Alright” both glorifies and uplifts the black community with lyrics like “I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils” and “My knees get weak, and my gun might blow, but we gon’ be alright.”

Both racially charged performances raised controversy, but neither was very surprising. Presenting the last award for Record of the Year, Beyonce acknowledged the negative comments and dismissed them in a way that only Beyonce could do:

“Art is the unapologetic celebration through cultural expression,” she said. “It can impact people in a variety of ways, for different reasons, at different times. Some will react some will respond, and some will be moved.”

Lauren Rathmell is a diversity reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].