Kendrick Lamar's new album, "DAMN." dropped Friday. On his first track, "Blood," he samples a "Fox News" segment where Geraldo Rivera and panelists critiqued his performance of "Alright" at the BET Awards. It's a completely tone-deaf segment that fails to understand Lamar's goals, audience and context in which he's delivering his message. But worse, it just warps Fox News into more of a joke, especially among young people, criminal justice reformers and anyone who likes political art. By sampling the segment in his latest track, Lamar rightfully ridicules "Fox News" and reaches millennials quite easily.
Fox should have figured this pattern out by now.
At the 2015 BET Awards, Kendrick danced and rapped atop a cop car with an American flag waving in the background. The song in question, "Alright," is inundated with references to police brutality and black resilience.
The accompanying "Fox News" segment centered around the obvious. It came off as mostly white, conservative pundits sounding threatened by Lamar's performance, defensive about police brutality and failing to consider why Lamar would create art so clearly fixated on these themes.
Let me be clear: Fox commentators can take whatever stance they want. I'm not surprised Lamar's rapping doesn't speak to them, and fewer Lamar fans just means cheaper concert tickets for me. But if "Fox News" and conservatives want to appeal to young people or communicate the value of criminal justice reform, they're failing to do so.
It's low-hanging fruit for Lamar, right? It's subversive and creative to stick the figurative middle-finger to Fox News panelists who choose not to try to understand his art. His audiences eat it up, and rightfully so. He speaks to people who've lived these experiences and he's being criticized by people who've made little effort to understand what that's like.
More than anything, though, limited government devotees should appreciate that Lamar doesn't display any sort of blind patriotism. He's criticizing institutions that are often corrupt, such as police departments, by standing on their symbols (cop cars) to make a point. Although this strikes the wrong chord with "Fox News" hosts, true small government advocates should appreciate that Lamar has both the freedom to criticize so heavily and that he chooses to use that freedom to call out broken government institutions. It's important to look at our expanded federal and state governments with a critical eye, after all.
If "Fox News" wants to appeal to younger conservatives and libertarians who truly believe in limited government, they should make an effort to understand Lamar's message.
In an era of declining trust in police, it's important to consider there might be validity to this animosity: We're becoming more aware of racial bias, civil asset forfeiture and the embarrassing failures of the drug war. I'm not expecting that Fox will immediately start reading sociology journals on air, but I am hoping they'll think about strategy. They're losing credibility as an organization that cares about limited government and institutional accountability when they neglect to think about failings in our police departments and criminal justice system at large. It's cliche for Fox panelists to rant about the "damaging effects" of rap music, at this point. It's been done.
But those facts aside, "Fox News" isn't going to appeal to younger audiences when they pick on the most popular artists of the day. They're just going to get sampled in more rap songs, which means millennials across the country will be hearing their segments every day –– just via the song "Blood" — so not the way they'd hoped.
Liz Wolfe (@lizzywol) is managing editor of Young Voices.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.