Polish singer Kuba Szmajkowski is facing criticism for his performance on the local karaoke show, “Your Face Sounds Familiar.” The show features eight celebrities competing against each other by imitating well-known artists for a chance to win a cash prize. However, Szmajkowski’s impersonation of Kendrick Lamar, which included darkening his skin and using racially insensitive language, has sparked controversy.
Szmajkowski performed Lamar’s song “Humble” in blackface and braids, and did not censor the use of the N-word in the song. This is a term that Lamar himself has publicly reprimanded fans for using during his performances.
The video of Szmajkowski’s performance circulated online, leading to disappointment from fans who felt that his use of blackface and the N-word were unnecessary for an authentic performance. Despite the controversy, Szmajkowski won the episode and donated his prize money to the Przystań Nadziei Foundation, a charity that supports children with cancer.
This is not the first time “Your Face Sounds Familiar” has faced backlash for similar incidents. Past performances have included impersonations of Beyoncé and Kanye West, which also involved blackface and exaggerated caricatures of African American Vernacular English.
While it’s possible that the cultural context and damaging history of such stereotypes may not be fully understood in Poland, it’s argued that with the internet, this information is readily available. The use of these offensive stereotypes is therefore seen as inexcusable.
In contrast, similar shows in the US have managed to deliver impressive performances without resorting to offensive stereotypes. Critics suggest that artists like Lil Yachty should avoid participating in such shows in Poland.