We don’t know if you’ve heard, but Kendrick Lamar‘s got a new nickname. Yesterday (April 19), we speculated that K. Dot’s new moniker, Kung Fu Kenny, was a reference to Don Cheadle‘s scene-stealing Rush Hour 2 character Kenny, who was a “Black man with a Chinese restaurant on Crenshaw.” In a new interview, Cheadle confirms that this is, indeed, the case.
Interestingly enough, Cheadle had missed the reference entirely at first glance. “I didn’t even know that I was the Kung Fu Kenny model,” Cheadle said during the interview.
He continued, “I didn’t know that until the next day. He got that from my character in Rush Hour 2. He was like, ‘Duh!’ He texted me like, ‘Dude are you serious? You didn’t know that?’ I totally forgot about that. I’ve been working too long, I didn’t even remember that.”
Cheadle went on to say the Kung Fu Kenny outfit and alter-ego was supposed to be K. Dot’s surprise for him when they shot the video for “DNA,” a vid in which Kendrick once again rocks his Kung Fu Kenny costume. Even after shooting the visual, which sees Cheadle rapping K. Dot’s lyrics, he was still blind to the reference.
“When he hit me, before the video, he said, ‘The video, it’s gonna be here, and I’ve got a little surprise for you.’ I was like, ‘Cool.’ So I showed up, I did the thing, then I left, and I did not put it together,” Cheadle explained. “Then I went to Coachella and saw him perform, and I saw the video before the thing and still didn’t figure it out. And then I went on Twitter and someone had randomly tweeted, ‘Don Cheadle is the original Kung Fu Kenny.’ I went, ‘Wait a minute, I did play a character named Kenny who did kung fu and spoke Chinese.’”
Cheadle texted K. Dot shortly after the revelation. “And I texted Kendrick and was like, ‘Hey man, am I the inspiration for Kung Fu Kenny? Because I’m going to say I am whether I am or not.’ He was like, ‘Fam, that was the surprise. So, surprise!’ Oh shit! I feel stupid now.”
So there you have it. Don Cheadle was the first Kung Fu Kenny, and he didn’t even know it. Crazy stuff.