Kendrick Lamar - "God Is Gangsta"
Director: the little homies, Jack Begert, PANAMÆRA
To try to summarize the massive scope of Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy-award winning record To Pimp a Butterfly in this short write-up would be a fool’s errand. In fact, responsibly analyzing anything more than one track at a time is a real challenge. Thankfully, Kendrick released “God is Gangsta” at the beginning of 2016, a short film that acts as a music video for two of the album’s tracks, “U” and “For Sale?”
By juxtaposing these two songs, which are not adjacent on the album’s track list, Kendrick asks his fans to think critically about the similarities and differences between the pair.
In “U,” Kendrick drunkenly berates himself for a slew of regrettable decisions—leaving Compton, choosing money over activism, and other choices make it hard to love himself. As Kendrick takes swigs of an amber liquid, the tincture that gives him the confidence to excavate those caverns of regret deep within himself, the video begins to skip and slur, ending with the rapper passed out on the floor of his prison-like lounge. The internal demons confronted in “U” can be contrasted with an external one, the seductive force personified as “Lucy” (read: Lucifer) in “For Sale?” Kendrick acts possessed, as if he has signed away his soul to Lucy in a contract not unlike the one he raps about signing at the beginning of his new career as a musical superstar.
The video changes scenery as the songs transition, trading the Lynchian VIP room for a red-and-orange club populated by beautiful women. It is possible that these women are disciples of Lucy sent to tempt Kendrick in the hellish red club—or perhaps you prefer to see them as angels sent to aid in his redemption, with the red-and-orange glow representing the sun rising on Kendrick’s new career as a self-forgiven man. The video ends appropriately with a baptismal scene—by the end of the two songs, Kendrick has come full circle in his retribution.