On 7/2/2015, Kendrick Lamar’s music video for “Alright” accumulated close to 1.7 million views on YouTube after being released just two days earlier.
This video is powerful for many reasons: lyrically sound, musically pleasing and visually captivating. The overall message empowers its viewers who are affected by discrimination. It calls police officials to action by showing them the mindset of racist cops.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this song helps inspire a revolution.
Whats more, the video concept for “Alright” is so deep you have to watch it more than one time to appreciate all the nuances that reinforce the song’s meaning. A few things that stood out for me is:
1. Black and White Video Effect
Eliminating the use of color makes perfect sense. Like the traditional booty, booze and bling often seen in hip-hop videos, color is a distraction. Neither element dominated in this video. I was led to believe that the lack thereof is a message to viewers that discrimination is a product of black and white thinking.
2. Dark Cloudy skies
Throughout the video, we see cloudy skies. Dark and gloomy skies hovered over the industrial and residential districts (particularly impoverished neighborhoods) and clear skies existed in the business district. Is there a statement being made about the economic system? Throwing money into the neighborhoods would definitely support this idea. But on a larger scale, the clouds suggest defeat and reinforces the hook’s significance, ” We gone be alright.”
3. Kendrick Floating in the city & Standing on the light pole
Now this effect tripped me out at first sight. It was this detail that made me watch the video several times to understand why Kendrick is floating around as if he is a ghost. This can also be interpreted as Kendrick having a God Complex, but I am not one to accuse people of things I have no proof of. I will leave that for the conspiracy theorist to tackle. I admit; I was thrown off a bit. If Kendrick is a ghost, why is he not transparent?
This tripped me out to the umpteenth power! Okay, so let us break it down…
In the beginning of the video, before the beat drops and Kendrick jumps into the interlude, there is a foreshadowing of tunnel movement. Kendrick screams (the same scream from hotel room line). Right before he gets to the neighborhood setting, there is a flash of “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Now the story begins.
These establishing shots led me to believe that Kendrick transported into social consciousness. “But while I was continuously fighting a war back in the city, I was entering a new one.” In this new world, he floats around encouraging hope. This is also the same world at “war that was based on apartheid and discrimination.” Another idea is that the floating represented Kendrick hallucinating on “Lucy.” But, I think that is too far-fetched. Let’s watch:
What is your interpretation of this video’s meaning?
P.s Special shout out to the director, Colin Tilley. He deserves an award for the stellar work he did on this video. He brought this concept to life and it will definitely go down as one of best music videos of all time.