Polish Singer Kuba Szmajkowski Is Being Criticized For A Kendrick Lamar Imitation That Used Blackface And The N-Word

A Polish singer is under scrutiny for a doing an impression of Kendrick Lamar while employing some ill-advised language and darkening his skin for a local karaoke show. Your Face Sounds Familiar pits eight celebrities against each other to imitate artists in the hopes of winning a cash prize. However, Polish singer Kuba Szmajkowski may have overstepped when he performed “Humble” as Kendrick in full blackface with braids, and eschewed common-sense self-editing for instances of the N-word in the song — something for which Kendrick has actually censured fans in person during his own performances.

Once the clip made its way online, some fans were disappointed in Szmajkowski’s decision to perform in blackface and use the N-word, neither of which seemed strictly necessary for him to do to give an authentic performance (he won that episode, the second of the 19th season, donating the prize money to the Przystań Nadziei Foundation, which helps children with cancer).


As it turns out, the show has had a bit of a history of similar incidents, with impressions of Beyoncé and Kanye West utilizing blackface and unflattering caricatures of African American Vernacular English. Unsurprisingly, it seems rappers are very popular in Poland.


Now, obviously, there’s a lot of cultural context that the Polish might not have regarding the damaging history of such stereotypes here in the States (blackface and racial caricatures were key to minstrel shows, which contributed to negative attitudes toward Black people, including inaccurate and reductive perceptions of their tendency for laziness, stupidity, and violence — ironic considering they were forced against their will to work for free under threat of violence).

But we’re in the year 2023, we have the internet now, and all of this stuff is relatively easy to find out. There’s just no excuse and shame on everybody involved. Somehow, the US has managed to put on a similar show and get rousing performances from its contestants without the use of offensive stereotypes. Lil Yachty and his wock should probably just stay home.