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Kendrick Lamar, 'God Is Gangsta'

Kendrick Lamar's 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly tackled issues of race, mental health and institutional discrimination, as well as the contradictions he has had to come to terms with as a result of his own success. Technically, God Is Gangstacame out in the final hours of 2015, and it acts as a music video for two tracks from To Pimp A Butterfly. In the short film's opening track, "u," we see Lamar's battle within himself come to the forefront; he screams the words "Loving you is complicated" while sitting alone in a room with a bottle of liquor. The imagery itself is striking, but what makes this section of the music video hit home is how openly Lamar presents his personal battles with depression, an issue that often gets pushed aside in the African-American community.

While the first half of the video focuses on mental health issues, the second act ("For Sale?") offers insight into the often-misconstrued notion that with success comes happiness. Placing religious symbolism alongside the secular imagery of a night spent inside a strip club, Lamar alludes to the idea that with success and fame come temptation and troubles. Never one to present a message without a purpose, Lamar leaves his audience with something to ponder when the seven-minute video finally comes to a close.

Directed by the little homies, Jack Bergert and PANAMAERA.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Cam Robert