In the past we have covered artists who are taking on police brutality, but Kendrick Lamar wants to have hard conversations.
The rapper has released a chilling music video for his song “Alright,” from his critically-acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly. Shot in rich black and white, the video starts with a series of grim images before cutting to a police officer shooting at a young black man.
In true Lamar style, the video is also a love letter to Compton, the rapper’s hometown. He flies through the city, cruises in a car with friends (including fellow Top Dawg rapper Schoolboy Q), and showers the streets with money.
The video suits the song’s lyrics, which balance optimism for the black community (“Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon’ be alright”), with frank observations about police brutality (“And we hate po-po/Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho”).
“Alright” also makes wider observations about discrimination and racism in society as a whole (“We been hurt, been down before/N***a, when our pride was low/Lookin’ at the world like ‘Where do we go?'”)
Police imagery features heavily throughout the video — kids dancing on a cop car, cops carrying Lamar and friends in a car, cops shooting at black men. It’s heavy material, but comes at a time when conversations about police brutality seem to dominate every other news cycle, with high profile cases in Ferguson, Baltimore and South Carolina — among many, many others.