Wednesday, Kendrick Lamar released the video for “Backseat Freestyle” off his critically acclaimed album, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city.” The video cuts between footage of Lamar strutting around his hometown of Compton, Calif., and the slightly different city of Paris. It’s a pretty straightforward video — fast cuts and black and white shots of booty shaking and the Eiffel Tower. With this type of content and lyrics like, “pray my d*** get big as the Eiffel Tower so I can f*** the world for 72 hours,” people like to dismiss the song as shallow. But, it’s not shallow. Really, the song is kind of deep — at least I’d like to think so.
This video has been taken off the Internet (including Lamar’s own website) due to a copyright claim by UMG. We’ll have it back up as soon as we can.
The Huffington Post called the track one of, “the less inhibited songs off his stellar debut,” and “the least introspective song on” the album. This is an easy opinion to have when you just take the song, and hip-hop as a whole at face value, but with Kendrick Lamar and this song in particular, there’s more to it.
Take “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” as a whole and “Backseat Freestyle” as one chapter in that work. The song, third on the album, is placed at a moment in the narrative where Lamar is a hot headed kid in Compton. He’s got dreams of girls, money and Paris, and how do you think a young kid who wants glory fast is going to get there?
What’s more, this song almost seems like a critique of hip-hop culture, where rappers use such rhetoric to build their credibility as an artist — rhetoric similar to the hormonal dreams of a 17-year-old boy. And could it be just coincidence that the song is a freestyle, the very way that rappers measure and compare each other’s … flow?
Maybe I’m looking into it too much because I refuse to believe Lamar would have a shallow hype song on his fantastic, thought provoking album. But then again every great rapper and every great rap album has a hype song.
Lamar is playing at Colorado’s SnowBall Music Festival on March 8-10. Check photos from last year’s festival above.
Reverb Managing Editor Matt Miller Tweets a few times a day, but not enough to be annoying.