The fact that Kendrick Lamar premiered the video for "King Kunta" on a Times Square billboard for a headphone company that Dr. Dre sold to Apple for $3 billion should not be lost: Compton officially came up, and Kendrick is here to floss the irrefutable Comptonness of it all. It's a "mama we made it" moment, his hard-earned pride on display as a proxy for everyone there before him.

"King Kunta" is nothing if not a celebration—of Compton's distinct culture, hoopties on hops, motorcycle stunts, Kendrick at the wheel of that Caddy creeping so slickly through the streets, its innards lit with the enthusiasm of youth and the sheer, free joy of just driving around—and of its blackness, the beauty of Kendrick Lamar's lifelong friends and neighbors en masse, living to the fullest, relishing their shine, gathering in a huge crowd in a country where it can be dangerous to do so. It also positions the song's double entendre in another light: it's this city where he bloomed, but it's also the place that threatens to cut his legs off, or rather the place the white man created to do it for him. Here, Lamar poses, the people have thrived regardless, like always, and it's fucking beautiful.

Advertisement

Of course, to go back to the idea that, maybe, Lamar is excluding women from his idea of black revolution (c.f. Jamilah Lamieux): the maleness of this video is very purposeful, Kendrick and his boys flexing their masculinity while the two gorgeous/gorgeously thick main chicas serve the purpose of the cool, round-the-way-girl friends (not objectified at all, it's very much worth noting), as well as the traditional back-up singers in his glistening fonk fantasia. Equals. There are other women, too, for sure, particularly in the parking lot of what I presume is the Compton Swap Meet—that badass girl in the crop top wining, various ladies lamping on lawn chairs and flicking box braids atop Caprices and more Caddys, the illest tall lady at 2:22 in the Kangol bucket, getting her life as Kendrick says 20 million walkin out the court building, woo woo! Annie is really, really okay, deadass.

Nice timing, too, after yesterday's premiere of the trailer for NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, which incidentally has its own Chevy on hydraulics. Hop contests are the best because they ask the most important question, not where you're going, or if you are... but how high.


Contact the author at julianne@jezebel.com.