In preparation for my first ever album review on this website (Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly), I thought it would be best to talk about his latest music video. Out of the three music videos that Kendrick released for TPAB, this is by far my absolute favorite. Its artistic visuals, overall structure, and multiple messages make this a true work of art and a strong candidate for video of the year.
Labeled by many fans as the best song on the album, Alright lifts the spirits of the listeners and the protagonist, in contrast to the track before it. The sharp contrast works in his favor as the message of the song proclaims: although life takes its toll by giving you setbacks, someway somehow, through all the bs, “we gon be alright”. The literal interpretation, taken from Lamar’s perspective, is about fighting his own personal vices (the main vice = being seduced by the evils of fame, a constant theme in this album).
The video starts with dark and violent scenes in black and white, setting the scene perfectly for the slightly altered version of the structural poem in Lamar’s album. We also hear small glimpses of audio, supplying us with clever references to Lamar’s songs Cartoons and Cereal and How Much A Dollar Cost.
However, we then come across a track never heard before. For the first time ever, to my knowledge, Kendrick’s delivers a verse in the style of the reggae spitters of the Caribbean. In terms of American rappers, this method makes him sound very much like Joey Bada$$ or Mos Def. Similarly to his performance at The Colbert Report, a full version of this song does not exist anywhere else on the internet, leaving many fans in a yearning frenzy. Will there ever be a full version ? Will the other members of Black Hippy share a verse? Who knows. As for now, this snippet, on repeat, will do.
Along with Kendrick rapping, all members of TDE’s Black Hippy were shown packed in a car vibing to the music. Im lost for words to describe the amount of excitement from the TDE fans, like myself, so I guess I’ll let youtube commenter “BLVCK LORD BEATS” take it away…
…Yes, it was that real.
Considering the fact that Kendrick has received some criticism over his BET performance of Alright, he continued to push buttons in this scene. As the 4 Black Hippy members bob their heads to the music, the camera zooms out and the viewer is automatically exposed to…
I wonder what the brilliant journalists at FOX news had to say about that.
As the actual song starts, there are a couple things that stand out.
1. Kendrick Soaring
As shown in the pic above, Kendrick shows off his levitation skills via Marshawn Lynch. He flies over several areas in California, a light pole in Los Angeles, and upside down over his homies (and also crowd surfing on his homies, if that counts). Not only is he mentally lifted up from his sorrows, he now physically feels like he’s soaring into the air, furthering the theme of eventually being “Alright”.
2. Police Brutality
With the nation still divided in turmoil about the growing problem of police brutality, not many hip hop artists have stated their opinion, shockingly enough. Leave it up to conscious rappers, like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, however, to voice their opinion. Lamar shows a police officer in the beginning wrongfully using his authority to shoot down someone running away from him. At the end of the video, Lamar himself is also gunned down, stating the poem again, while falling down from a light pole. The lines “abusing my power full of resentment” were accompanied with the image of the officer on screen, inferring that the poem applies to everyone (not only that one line to that one oppressor).
Lamar has a multitude of dancers showing off their dance moves in this music video. Most, if not all, of them are minorities. Some of which were also younger kids, as seen on top of this police car (a great reference to his BET performance just days before this video was released).
This was great for children especially from urban neighborhoods to express themselves behind such a powerful message. Lamar is a firm believer in change for the community starting from within, hence the meaning of the song and hence that constant theme pushed in his recent masterpiece of an album.
Next post? A track by track review of To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Stay tuned 🙂