In his striking new video for “Humble,” which was released Thursday, Kendrick Lamar’s a man on the move.
Here he’s shown standing atop a beat-up Buick and driving golf balls into the Los Angeles River. There he is dining, surrounded by his disciples like Jesus at his last supper.
He’s in a beauty salon. In a cavernous room dressed in religious garb. Lying in a pile of money. Standing amid dozens of bald-headed men. Descending a staircase.
(You can watch the video here, but a warning that it contains profane language.)
Directed by Dave Meyers and the Little Homies, the clip for the second song from Lamar’s forthcoming album, due on April 7, also finds the superstar Compton rapper staring calmly into the camera while his hair burns, as though the artist were so focused on his rhymes that the external world no longer mattered.
The minimal, percussive track, produced by hitmaker Mike WiLL Made-It, is propelled by a hard, menacing piano melody. Each note hits like a hammer as Lamar boasts and berates in equal measure, playing with lyrical themes of money, sex and power that are as old as the genre itself.
After an opening verse about his financial windfall and sexual appetite, the artist seems to scold himself in the refrain: “Hold up, bitch/ Be humble.”
He then goes on to indict Photoshopped perfection — “show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor/ Show me something natural like ... with some stretchmarks” — and name-checks the Affordable Care Act, the former president (“Obama just paged me”), TED talks, Grey Poupon mustard and “Showtime at the Apollo,” among others.
April is shaping up to be Lamar’s month. In addition to the arrival of the yet untitled fourth studio album, he’ll be headlining the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for the first time with festival-ending Sunday sets.