By: Steven Underwood
Kendrick Lamar, long-time reigning champion and everyone’s pick for Top 5 Contemporary Rappers, released a new video for his upcoming album, and it is bold.
The video is a staggering celebration of Kendrick Lamar’s individuality, pro-black sentiments and his supremacy over the rap world.
“Wicked or weakness
You gotta see it!” (Kendrick Lamar)
HUMBLE opens with Kendrick standing in the center of a cathedral draped in a roman white robe that crosses the aesthetic of a Gucci Spring Collection with the Sunday garb of Pope Francis. A single ray of sunlight flows through a stained glass window and illuminates him in a solo spotlight.
And what’s more intimidating than his physical form, draped in religious allegory? The Silence of the track, the Shadows of the church, and the rolling particles of dust throughout the room: this is a testimony of Kendrick Lamar.
“If I quit your BM, I still ride Mercedes, funk
If I quit this season, I still be the greatest, funk
My left stroke just went viral
Right stroke put lil’ baby in a spiral” (Kendrick Lamar)
Kendrick Lamar’s track leaves very little to the imagination. He raps about being humble and dismisses the excess and glamour of the rap life and today’s society (in so many words) all while surrounding himself in every image of power including surrounding himself in mostly naked black women while laying down upon thousands of 100 dollar bills and cash counting machines. Even though he is laying upon this table on his back, he is still framed as the only man standing in the whole room.
And this is far from the last hard-hitting metaphor. We transition rapidly between scenes: Kendrick Lamar riding a bike down the street that is contorted a la an impressive effects budget to appear as a singular globe — as if saying to him, the streets are the only world to exist; Kendrick Lamar, spitting the cleanest verse I’ve heard in a while, his braids swaying about while he is surrounded by a sea of bald, muscular black men in black t-shirts.; and even Kendrick Lamar in an eerie Last Supper Scene, surrounded by friends of dark skin with a larger, lighter skinned friend sitting in Judas’s infamous throne within the scene.
The video’s message is clear: this was Kendrick Lamars “Bow Down” — and this is a meaningful allusion, based on Kendrick Lamar’s feature on Beyonce’s politically charged FREEDOM — and he is laying claim to the glorious golden gilded throne of Rap, Drake be damned.
Though, maybe the most peculiar verse from the song came when Kendrick Lamar hopped onto the issue on female beauty standards in the industry:
“I’m so f— sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretchmarks
Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks, ayy” (Kendrick Lamar)
The double panel of Kendrick Lamar and a woman heavily modified by digital editing. The picture cutes to her actual appearance, blemishes and 3c hair rather than the straight laced and porcelain-like aesthetic found in popular media today. In rejection of this philosophy, Kendrick Lamar trades places with the girl, and allows her to stand confidently in her true visage. The scene immediately cuts to a shot of a girl in volleyball shorts, covered in stretch marks — naturally, as this is still Rap.
Drake’s mixtape, MUCH LOVE, was released last week and invoked many relations between Drake and phrases like “Greatest Ever” and “King of –” HUMBLE is the second single followed by last week’s THE HEART PART 4, another song declaring Kendrick’s excellency and place amongst Hip Hop, creating much fanfare for Kendrick Lamar’s forthcoming album is widely anticipated.
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