Since the release of To Pimp a Butterfly in March 2015, Kendrick Lamar’s been on an unbelievable tear with his music videos. There was the square aspect-ratio, Compton homage of “King Kunta,” the stunningly cinematic “Alright,” the fittingly surreal “For Free?”, the hilarious mini-movie “These Walls,” and more recently, the instantly iconic “Humble.” Yesterday, he shared another one that lives up to our extremely high expectations for Kendrick Lamar music videos.
“DNA” is the second track from his new album, DAMN, and the second Mike Will Made It-produced track from the album to get video treatment. In contrast to the “Humble” visuals, which were eclectic, grandiose, and filled with symbolism, this Nabil-directed clip is more contained, mostly consisting of just two scenes.
The first features a star turn from actor Don Cheadle, who plays a detective interrogating a handcuffed Kendrick (“Two first names, huh? The fuck is up with that?”). Once the song gets going, the two men trade off rapping bars to each other, like a more aggressive and confrontational Rev Run and DMC in their prime. It’s unclear if Kendrick wrote these lyrics as a conversation between himself and a similar oppressor, or if this is merely a tactic employed for the video’s benefit, but either way, it makes for a hell of a showdown.
After being released, Kendrick heads outside (clad in an outfit that makes his “Kung Fu Kenny” nickname make more sense) to shoot dice with his friends while they watch a group of women whip a car around the block for fun. Among those friends is fellow TDE rapper Schoolboy Q, who magnificently closes out the video by lighting a blunt, walking towards us, throwing up his set, and then punching the camera. Not every piece of Kendrick Lamar’s songs and videos has to have deeper significance; sometimes it’s just for fun.