TDE’s Top Dawg Barks Over ‘GQ’ Interview


Cultural Tourism.You can’t judge a magazine by its cover, but you can criticize its writers. Days after Kendrick Lamar’s GQ cover unveiling, Top Dawg Entertainment founder “Top Dawg” Tiffith expressed his disapproval with the feature. In a statement below, he says the interview has inaccurate and racially tinged.

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.

UPDATE: GQ‘s Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson responds:

“Kendrick Lamar is one of the most talented new musicians to arrive on the scene in years. That’s the reason we chose to celebrate him, wrote an incredibly positive article declaring him the next King of Rap, and gave him our highest honor: putting him on the cover of our Men of the Year issue. I’m not sure how you can spin that into a bad thing, and I encourage anyone interested to read the story and see for themselves. We were mystified and sorely disappointed by Top Dawg’s decision to pull him at the last minute from the performance he had promised to give. The real shame is that people were deprived of the joy of seeing Kendrick perform live. I’m still a huge fan.” —Jim Nelson, GQ editor-in-chief

Rate This:
Submit 25 Ratings
  • LuckyP757

    good sht…niggas got to start taking stands and stop bending over for looks such as these

  • Aaron T. Andrews

    Much respect to Top Dawg for taking a stand

  • Myke Wayne

    Stand up dude and a stand up response. Finally someone that’s not just happy to be there. Haven’t read the article but that’s how you handle that situation

    • HipHopObama

      If you haven’t read the article then you are talking out of your ass, sir.

    • MarkOfTheBuddah

      You cant comment if you havent read the article yet

  • Yacht

    Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it? See I’m influenced by the ghetto you ruined That same dude you gave nothing, I made something doing What I do, through and through and I gave you the news with a twist it’s just his ghetto point of view…

  • Myke Wayne

    Hold up though.
    I just read the article and while I respect the stand but I don’t see the issue. The article is online and I did not come away with anything that seemed to have tones of disrespect nor racial.

  • Darrell Cabey

    fuck TDE.

  • Donn

    Niggas look for racism. Ain’t nothing wrong with that article or Kendrick would have walked out on it. Stop being so sensitive

    • Word

      Smh. As usual, you come off lookin’ like the sensitive one just because you don’t see the fault in this article. I’m not saying it’s bad either, but obviously his management does and he clearly points out why in this very post that you must’ve either skipped or skimmed through.

    • Myke Wayne

      Finally somebody said it. Good shit Donn

    • TimeChange

      If they look for it,trust me they dont have to look far when dealing with white established organizations. Like somehow racist overtones dont exist anymore,lol,you funny.

  • IamRealTalk-BdotLivesWithDad

    lmao damn ma nigga Top Dawg on his shit

  • DJCognac


  • Top Dawg is a faceless man

    • Goten


  • JMcL

    fuck journalism

  • Seriously4

    Finally im so tired of people reminding us of the 90’s and the east vs west coast tragedies and NWA and the riota etc ..we are obviously past that, thats old shit now let the new guys like kendrick and schoolboy come in and shine a more positive light without having to9 bring up the negative past

  • The Shepherd

    He referred to TDE as “the baby Death Row Records”. Hell yeah, thats disrespectful.

    • butch

      And compared Tiff specifically to Suge – again, disrespectful and ignorant given Suge’s wholly negative rep.

  • Lance R. Grandé

    read that article, its full of racism. black rappers ain’t all violent. Fuck you GQ

  • Chronic

    Fuckin true boss status…that’s the kinda motherfucker you want in charge of your label.

  • Lance R. Grandé

    same niggas who smile and feel good when they hear someone tell them.

    “you speak very well for a Black person”

    they start off with the absolute lowest expectations of you and are amazed when you don’t fit their preconceived stereotypes.

    • Myke Wayne

      Put waaaaay too much on it

    • Goodness Gracious

      I agree, telling a black person that they speak well is not a compliment. I have actually told white people that and they would look at me like im crazy. But for GQ to say that ” I was surprised by their discipline” states that he was expecting the people of TDE to be wreckless, late and disorderly based on the assumptions of blacks and anything associated with hiphop. Didn’t read the article, but its good to take a stand. I never agreed with GQ and their Man of The Year award because they always have different covers to appeal to different demographics. Putting Kendrick on the cover was to help sell the mag to blacks.

  • Hussle

    He did exactly what he was supposed to!! #SALUTE my G!

  • KooKooCal

    no rapper will ever get the cover in a “man of the year issue” good job TDE in your effort of bitchassness to be as much like and corrupted as death row once was.. See how far all the bridges you have burned gets you. Dipshits

    • Myke Wayne

      Well said

    • FerociousLionsOrg

      really don’t get what you are trying to say. I think your bitchassness is showing.

  • Ositadimma Onuoha

    These publications have to stop stooping to the level of the new “shock blogs” and conduct business in respect with the esteem they are associated with. We have so may people pumping the bs into hip hop please gq stick to what you do. Remember you did emphasize that statement about Drake as if you wanted to push an agenda or even start something between the two mc’s please stick to fashion pop culture and whatever it is you all do.

    ps this is my first and last time ever commenting on a blog and Jim Nelson please sit down dont nobody feel sorry you didnt get to see Kendrick live go buy a ticket and support the culture.

  • Reginald

    TDE’s Newest M.C…Can You Believe He’s From Alabama??? Wow.

  • Guillaume Pilon

    Top dawg thinking hes suge knight ?? What a retard

    • Gmillz

      I think that’s the problem. He wants to avoid the Suge Knight comparison because it not only reminds people of Death Row ( which most people see in a negative way) but also shadows his label from that label.

  • Guillaume Pilon

    They said they were surprised at the disciplibe simply cuz they really organized

  • Illverse

    As much as I support any black man’s right to take a stand I didn’t see much in this interview that was negative in regards to Top Dawg, KL or TDE as a whole except for possibly the “Death Row” comparisons. But am I the only one that remembers that at one time MUSICALLY Death Row was running the music business and had the hottest rapper in the game repping the West Coast on their label? Wouldn’t that be a compliment?? The inner workings of Death Row were grimy but the journalist obviously wasn’t making that comparison because he spoke about TDE’s discipline as an organization. I think it was Top Dawg’s chance to beat his chest and draw attention to himself…. hence the “I pulled Kendrick from the show…..” now THAT reminds me of some Suge Knight stuff. It’s his right to be offended but it makes you wonder how many bridges he burned for K dot while drawing attention to himself and his negative views on a largely positive article.

  • Wacklemore

    In fact, Top Dawg does treat Kendrick like a sharecropper laboring under a 50/50 production contract. ” As a result of this misrepresentation, I pulled Kendrick from his performance.” Kendrick needs to stand up like a man!

  • That Guy

    Before you sheep comment on an article you haven’t yet read, here it is:

    It’s bad writing, yes. It’s corny, yes. My only fault was that he didn’t explore to any respectable depth Kendrick’s music, meaning his genesis, sound, what legacy he intends to leave, creative process, etc. As far as documenting his friend’s death and the “Control” verse, Lamar chose to tell him the first and “Control” was so big it was hard not to put it in the article. This is a mainstream magazine in which “the popular” dictates attention. Would I write it differently? yes, but this is expected.
    Aside from that this was a foolish guy trying to adapt slang into the article. He’s a moron. But not a racist, which is what “racial overtones” implied. Come on, enough. The guy intended well but it completely didn’t show. Regardless, no malice involved. Let’s not knit pick and create an issue when there isn’t one. All that happened was that people were denied exposure to Lamar when he didn’t show to that concert. Loss.

  • Sid Villian