Kendrick Lamar is referred to as "Kung Fu Kenny" throughout new album DAMN. and, until recently, there has been no explanation for the new nickname. However, "DNA" video star Don Cheadle has revealed that the moniker is a reference to a character he played in Rush Hour 2 way back in 2001.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about his role in the "DNA" video, Cheadle said: "The funniest thing about the whole thing was, after I shot the video, he’s like, “So we’re doing these dates at Coachella, you should come to Coachella and kick it.” I’m like, “I’ve never even thought about coming to Coachella, that’s not my thing at all, but because you’re going to be there, for sure I’ll come to Coachella.” So he says, “Okay, come, it’ll be dope. And I’m going to have a little surprise for you.” So I came, I saw him perform, it was dope. He has this crazy karate movie that he has before the concert which is weird and cuts all through it and is really bizarre and funny and out of his brain and great. Crazy-great kung fu movie. We ride back, we actually ate at P.F. Changs [laughs], and hung out, and then I left, and I went on my Twitter account and somebody wrote, “Don Cheadle, the original Kung Fu Kenny” and put a picture of Rush Hour 2 up. I was like, wait a minute. So I texted him. I said, “Is Kung Fu Kenny me?” He’s like, “That’s what the surprise was. Damn.” I was like, “Oh, I didn’t get it at all.” [Laughs] He’s like, “Yeah that’s what the surprise was, so… surprise.”
Kendrick is NASTY for having Don Cheadle in the "DNA" video aka the original "Kung fu Kenny" From Rush Hour 2. pic.twitter.com/um0hhGpxUy— Seaan. (@SEAANBROOKS) April 18, 2017
Elsewhere in the interview Cheadle talks about his long-standing love for Kendrick's music and how he tried to cast him in Miles Ahead in a role that eventually went to LaKeith Stanfield. Read the whole thing here.