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Lessons from The Pop Out: A Moment for Black Culture

The Drake and Kendrick Lamar rap beef reached new heights last week with Kendrick Lamar’s ‘The Pop Out: Ken & Friends’ concert at the Forum in Los Angeles. The Juneteenth show was a celebration of Black culture in Los Angeles, and solidified Kendrick’s reign in what will be remembered as one of the greatest moments in music history. 


Kendrick Lamar smiles in a red hoodie and red hat while shaking the hand of someone on the stage. The stage is filled with friends of the artist on stage smiling


So why does the event matter in the context of DEI? 


If you’ve checked out our blog before, you know that ShiftEd Consulting has unabashedly been #TeamKendrick. His callout of how Black people’s labor, creativity, and even companionship has been exploited by Drake reflects how the same happens to Black folks everyday outside of the music industry. 


The Pop Out was a moment for Black culture that we can glean many lessons from in the field of DEI, education, and in the workplace at large:


Put your people on/bring your people with you

The hours before Kendrick took the stage were filled with surprise performances from some of the top West Coast artists including Tyler the Creator, Steve Lacy, ScHoolboy Q, and more. In a time when Kendrick could have doubled down on how he’s solidified his seat at the top of this battle and rap at large, he chose to bring others with him. 


a stage filled with people from Compton smile and posing with the artist Kendrick Lamar

His community-minded nature is one that the field of DEI and the workplace at large could benefit from. Even in mission-driven spaces or the DEI field itself, it can be challenging for some leaders to see beyond their own self interests, or be fearful of sharing opportunities lest they deny themselves the spotlight. 


Instead of embracing his own ego, Kendrick chose to share the stage and moment with his community at large. Taking a similar approach in the workplace is needed, where Black folks– and especially Black women– need leaders to champion their work. In a culture where thought leadership and having a platform can be transformational for an individual’s career, creating a workplace culture where leaders are unafraid to share the spotlight is paramount. 


Authenticity over analytics  

In a capitalistic society, we live and die by the numbers. Drake fans have argued that his chart-topping hits and streaming numbers make him the better rapper and, thus, the winner in the battle. But ‘The Pop Out’ solidified that metrics and data don’t always tell a complete picture. 


Uprooting White supremacy culture in the workplace means rejecting the idea that the value of a person is determined by their output or by what an algorithm or test score tells us. 


Excellence and success at work are not sacrificed when people are valued over profits. If anything, working cultures that insist on output at all times lead to burnout, workplace dissatisfaction, and a decreased quality of life for employees. 


Quality is not sacrificed when employees are given sufficient time and resources to reach organizational goals. Shifting to a culture that values quality and the experience employees have while completing the work over a relentless pursuit of productivity creates a space that is more inclusive and equitable—particularly for Black folks. 




Trust your leaders to lead

I cracked up at tweets that joked about Amazon Prime executives being shocked that Kendrick Lamar could pull off such a successful feat. While hypothetical, the commentary is reminiscent of how many companies and organizations do not trust the Black folks on their team to get their jobs done. 


Micromanaging and critically observing Black employees is not motivational. It is counterproductive and leads to high turnover rates at companies. Shifting to a culture of trust, accountability, and respect allows employees to get their best work done and feel empowered in the process. 


Traces of White Supremacy Culture can still persist– stay vigilant 

For as incredible of a moment as The Pop Out was, there were still glaring reminders of the misogyny that persists in hip-hop on full display. 


Dr. Dre’s surprise guest appearance ignited the crowd, but it was also a blazing example of how those who misuse and abuse their power can still be uplifted. His alleged abuse has been chronicled for decades, and in 2015, he apologized to women he’s hurt in a statement to The New York Times. 


The Pop Out and Dr. Dre’s appearance at it remind us that even in environments where active DEI work is being done, White supremacy culture will still rear its ugly head at times. Keeping systems in place that promote accountability, transparency, and a willingness to challenge power and how things have always been done can support your organization in remaining open to continuous growth. 


Schedule a consultation with ShiftEd Consulting to begin your journey today! 


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