Kendrick Lamar rapped from atop a police cruiser at last weekend's BET Awards. In his new video for "Alright," however, he's perched high above everything that's troubling him.
The surreal yet stark black and white video, directed by Colin Tilley and the Little Homies, follows Lamar around Los Angeles and other locales as he joyfully raps while suspended off the ground. On light posts, walking in midair or inverted over a raucous party, Lamar never loses his grin as he flies above the California coast, downtown Oakland, Staples Center and a pyramid of boomboxes.
Even as the video ends with a resonant long take of a police officer shooting Lamar out of the sky, Lamar still gets the final laugh.
The song was a highlight of his "To Pimp a Butterfly" album, the year's most acclaimed and talked-about hip-hop LP. The record's layers of spliced jazz-fusion and crisp rap beats had a dazed, dream world logic that lends well to this kind of video storytelling.
Lamar's long-form video collaboration with Kahlil Joseph (now on display at MOCA) used a similar mix of the gritty and the fantastical to document scenes from Compton and South Los Angeles. "Alright" is a natural follow-up, and between this and the jubilant clip for "i," it's great to see Lamar so enjoying his (literal) ascent.