As you’re probably aware, Kendrick Lamar’s new nickname is Kung Fu Kenny. He refers to himself as Kung Fu Kenny multiple times over the course of his new album DAMN., and many have speculated that the moniker is a reference to Don Cheadle’s character in Rush Hour 2, Kenny, the owner of a Chinese restaurant who impresses Jackie Chan with his martial arts skill.
Well, now it’s official: The moniker is indeed a reference to Don Cheadle’s character in Rush Hour 2. Cheadle just starred in Kendrick’s new music video for “DNA.,” which also features Kendrick wearing a Kung Fu Kenny outfit, and in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cheadle reveals that he just figured out the connection.
You played Kenny in Rush Hour 2, and Kendrick references Kung Fu Kenny a bunch on the album. Is that a direct reference to that character?
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.”
Kung Fu Kenny.
— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) March 31, 2017