TDE CEO Responds to “Offensive” Kendrick Lamar GQ Cover Story


Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, the founder and CEO of Kendrick Lamar’s label Top Dawg Entertainment, has released a statement in response to GQ’s December Kendrick Lamar cover story. Tiffith, the architect of TDE’s five-pillar “just make good music” plan, pulled Lamar from a planned performance at GQ’s Men of the Year party this past Tuesday. He argues that the story, where freelance writer Steve Marsh calls TDE a “baby Death Row Records” and Tiffith “TDE’s Suge Knight,” is “lazy,” has “racial overtones” and does not “accurately” document Lamar or TDE. Tiffith writes:

In 2004, I founded Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) with the goal of providing a home for west coast artists and a platform for these artists to express themselves freely and to give their music to the world. From our beginning in 2005 with Jay Rock, to developing Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, to most recently singing Isaiah Rashad and SZA. We, as TDE, have always prided ourselves in doing everything with heart, honor, and respect.

This week, Kendrick Lamar was named one of GQ’s 2013 Men Of The Year, an honor that should have been celebrated as a milestone in his career and for the company. Instead, the story, written by Steve Marsh, put myself and my company in a negative light. Marsh’s story was more focused on what most people would see as drama or bs. To say he was “surprised at our discipline” is completely disrespectful. Instead of putting emphasis on the good that TDE has done for west coast music, and for hip hop as a whole, he spoke on what most people would consider whats wrong with Hip Hop music. Furthermore, Kendrick deserved to be accurately documented. The racial overtones, immediately reminded everyone of a time in hip-hop that was destroyed by violence, resulting in the loss of two of our biggest stars. We would expect more from a publication with the stature and reputation that GQ has. As a result of this misrepresentation, I pulled Kendrick from his performance at GQ’s annual Man Of The Year party Tuesday, November 12th.

While we think it’s a tremendous honor to be named as one of the Men Of The Year, these lazy comparisons and offensive suggestions are something we won’t tolerate. Our reputation, work ethic, and product is something that we guard with our lives.

Lamar, along with Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, was profiled in a FADER cover story by Andrew Nosnitsky in 2011.

POSTED November 15, 2013 6:05PM IN MUSIC NEWS Comments (6) TAGS: , , ,




  1. One can not help but respect the mind and accomplishments of Mr. Tiffith and the entire TDE organization. I completely understand his perspective on this one.

  2. Prill Prill says:

    The GQ article is wack. I can’t believe the editor came out and said it was all good. It is full of coded, lazy language that basically says it is amazing that a rapper isn’t out of control and completely obsessed with pussy and getting fucked up.

  3. Pingback: TDE’s “Top Dawg” Talks About Kendrick Lamar GQ Interview | CITYONCLOUDS

  4. Sirron says:

    Not surprised. Bul prolly was bullied by cats who listened to Death Row back in the day.
    And in GQ! Really bruh?!?! Those readers are not concerned with the ethics of the record company. They just like the music.
    Marsh is a jerk

  5. Pingback: GQ Responds to TDE Criticism of Kendrick Lamar's Cover Story [News] » Brightside Network Media

  6. P. Murray says:

    This is a very tough set of words to critique. On one hand, it is apparent that Steve Marsh aimed high but missed the mark when trying to wrap up his praise of Kendrick in a slew of tired rap metaphors and historical references, on the other hand, he was certainly sparing in his description of the Black Hippy collective, allowing for his readers to decipher for themselves the nature of the entrepreneurial music-makers rather than paint the appropriate picture for them (as he was trying to do with Kendrick throughout the entire article). The problem with Hip-Hop journalism is that no matter how you slice it, it will always be difficult for a writer who hasn’t entrenched themselves in the culture of Hip-Hop and Rap music to accurately portray a Hip-Hop artist and how they can relate to the world of Pop Culture (and the world at large). Marsh did the best he could, from a subjective point of view. However, there is certainly a palpable racial undercurrent throughout the piece, with just enough “off-kilter” terminology to rub any Hip-Hop aficionado the wrong way, let alone one of the catalysts behind the success of one of Hip-Hop’s brightest new talents. That being said, I have to respect Tiffith’s stance as a businessman, a music devotee, a Man of Color, and a friend, nay, family member of the artist in question; he’s doing what he thinks is right for his team, and he’s drawing a line in the sand about how he wants his team to be portrayed – and how he doesn’t. The question now is whether or not mainstream media will take this statement + performance snub; we’ve seen far too many times how Non-Black business entities use moves like this to excommunicate Black Entertainers and enterprises from future success. It’s all a chess game at this point, and Top Dawg has moved some key pieces. Game on.

  7. Prodigal Sun says:

    Wow. Bold move.