Kendrick Lamar just announced that he’ll be producing and curating the Black Panther album soundtrack. He’s also performing for Donald Trump on Monday in Atlanta.
Kendrick Lamar is an outspoken critic of Donald Trump. And that’s an understatement. So why is he performing for the President on Monday?
Blame a scheduling oversight or last-minute change in itinerary. But on Monday, January 8th, Donald Trump will be attending the College Football Playoff National Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Lamar is slated to perform the halftime festivities at the adjacent Centennial Olympic Park.
(Quick update: our earlier report suggested that Lamar would be playing on the Mercedes-Benz field itself. Instead, Lamar will be situated just outside the stadium, though the performance will be integrated into the Championship.)
Trump is scheduled to attend the game with agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue, vice presidential aide Nick Ayers, and first lady Melania Trump. On the field, Alabama and Georgia will be pitted against one another, though Trump is guaranteed to commandeer the spotlight.
Trump’s appearance was confirmed by the Atlanta Police Dept. this week. The game officially starts at 8 pm EST (here’s the complete game-day guide).
According to a press release sent to Digital Music News, Kendrick’s performance will be integrated into the halftime telecast. Viewers at home will be treated to a great game interspersed with the halftime performance. That arrangement probably means that attendees to the game inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium will see the perform played on multiple game screens.
All of which means that Kendrick Lamar will technically be playing for the president, first lady, and top White House aides.
In comments this week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the football rivals “two great teams from two great states, both in the heart of Trump country”. She declined to discuss potential conflicts involving the national anthem or a performance by Lamar.
As for Lamar, it’s difficult to imagine that the rapper agreed to the performance involving Trump.
All of which raises the possibility that Lamar will pull out at the last moment in protest.
So far, the rapper has yet to comment on the issue. But the ramifications for musicians and entertainers associating with Trump can be severe. At the tail end of 2016, Chrisette Michele agreed to play a Trump Inauguration event, with severe ramifications for her career.
Similarly, Steve Harvey met with Donald Trump at the foot of Trump Tower after the 2016 election. The entertainer suffered catastrophic ratings drops following the decision, with potentially permanent career damage resulting.
Granted, those were meetings confirmed and arranged by both performers. But it’s unclear if Lamar’s audience will discern the difference, especially after the performance is broadcast on national television without the proper backstory. In fact, it may all appear to be a well-choreographed event — with Kendrick Lamar guilty by association.
More as this develops.