Kendrick Lamar’s ‘N95’ Music Video Features Major Artistic Landmarks – ARTnews.com
A few days after release Mr. Morale and Big Stepshis first new album in five years, rapper Kendrick Lamar has unveiled a music video featuring two Texas cultural landmarks.
The Kimbell Museum of Art in Fort Worth and the city’s namesake Phillip Johnson-designed Water Gardens appear as settings throughout the visual short of the recently released song “N-95,” co-directed by Lamar and the musical director Dave Free.
In the clip, Lamar can be seen walking down a steep stone staircase that descends to a waterlogged center, collecting water that cascades down the concave steps of the outdoor pavilion.
The public square, designed by Phillips Johnson in 1974, sits at the southern end of Forth Worth’s inner city south quarter and featured in Solange’s 2019 music video for the song “Almeda”. Footage of Lamar standing in the sunken center of the Forth Worth site mimics other images of him floating that occur throughout the video – the short opens with the musician levitating above the ocean , filmed on a beach in Los Angeles, in a pose in the shape of a crucifix.
At another point, the camera pans to Lamar, center stage, playing the piano in an empty theater in the Louis Kahn-designed building of the Kimbell Museum. It is a landmark that since 1972 has become known for its light-filled vaulted space that Kahn produced to draw inspiration from classical Roman architecture.
Spicy between shots of Lamar’s piano serenade and his chase by an angry mob, eagle-eyed viewers will catch a reference to another kingpin of art history: photographer Gordon Parks.
In the video, a black and white photo shows a young child resting his chin on his hand at a table as an unnamed adult points to a pair of dolls – one black and one white – whose only visible features are his arms. holding the toys in each hand.
“Gone is the black and white, the fake and the real,” Lamar raps over the image sequence, a line that denotes the shot reference.
Photo references Parks’ 1947 photograph Untitled, Harlem, New York, taken while documenting the infamous 1940s “doll test”, an experiment conducted by psychologists Kenneth Clark and Mamie Clark that showed the impact of segregation on black children. The images would become crucial evidence for the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Commission who ended segregation in public schools.
This isn’t the first time Parks’ imagery has influenced Lamar’s visual work. In 2017, the musician recreated photographs Parks took for the “Element” music video, including his 1963 snap Black Muslims train in self-defense, taken during a stint chronicling a community of young black Muslims in Chicago.