Kendrick Lamar is literally floating above the chaos in the video for his anthemic uplifter “Alright,” from To Pimp a Butterfly.
It’s full of cinematic, black-and-white, almost oily neighborhood visuals (directed by Colin Tilley), sad and free people, and gorgeous bouts of spontaneous dancing.
This, along with shots of a cop violently handcuffing a man, face on the concrete, and then shooting him as he’s fleeing, while Kendrick recites the intro: “While my loved ones was fighting a continuous war back in the city, I was entering a new one, a war that was based on apartheid and discrimination.”
“Alright” doesn’t even start playing until about two-and-a-half minutes in, and there’s K. Dot bopping in his whip with his boys in unison. It’s a record that’s a joyous, jazzy, cathartic release with a hint of sadness, which is something the video totally captures. Seeing Kendrick’s feet dangling in the air, you know he’s supposed to be floating but you know exactly what else it’s referencing.
In the end, a cop metaphorically shoots him down while he’s standing alone on a light post, above everything. The purpose of this song is to find the light, though, so it ends with a smile. Because what else can he do but be okay?