Christmas came early for Kendrick Lamar fans. His third LP, titled “Damn.,” dropped April 14, just two weeks after K-dot unleashed a firestorm on the web with the music video for “Humble.”
The Compton MC set himself apart both visually and verbally in the Dave Meyers and The Little Homies-produced video, which has 75 million views since hitting YouTube March 30.
“Humble” was the first thing Lamar had released since the single “The Heart Part IV,” a flexing, aggressive claim to the throne.
The opening scene displays Kendrick, head bowed in papal robes, standing alone enveloped in a beam of light. He goes on to assert that he’s “the greatest rapper alive,” part of a heavy-hitting flow in which he also calls out the fakes and the Photoshop.
The imagery stresses Lamar being isolated from his peers in the rap game, like at 1:31 when he is in white, head ablaze, surrounded by men in black, whose flaming heads are wrapped in rope.
A few lines in the song about the perception of women sparked controversy among listeners.
“Show me something natural like Afro on Richard Pyror…Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks.”
Some saw the lyrics and video as demeaning and misogynistic, while others praised his appreciation of natural beauty.
.@kendricklamar I’m a heavy fan so it’s disappointing that humble neglects to speak on real struggles of black women, not just our bodies.
— kaila (@kaichare) March 31, 2017
All of the misogyny in rap but ppl wanna get mad at Kendrick for saying that women don’t need artificial enhancements to be beautiful
— Focused Sean Don (@ItsSeanStarks) April 2, 2017
Either way, Kendrick succeeded in creating a swell of hype for his album, which features U2, Rihanna and Zacari.
When listening through the album, “Humble” doesn’t jump out and grab you like the video does, which could be due to the fact it’s surrounded by bangers.
Tracks like “DNA,” “Element,” “XXX,” and “Lust” contribute to the depth of “Damn.,” a poignant work that tackles societal ills like police brutality, racism, lust and drug use. As he’s done in previous albums, K-dot gives us a glimpse into the harsh reality of life in urban inner-cities, while simultaneously illustrating how fame can drive people mad.
One theme can’t be missed, though, which is Kendrick issuing a decree to the rest of hip-hop, letting them know who’s the king.
Shots have been fired in the upper echelons of rap, and hopefully it elicits some heated responses.