The student news site of California State University, Chico

The Orion

Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

Kendrick+Lamar+dressed+as+a+priest+in+the+opening+scene+of+%22Humble.%22+Photo+credit%3A+Screenshot+from+Kendrick+Lamar%27s+%22Humble%22+%28C%29+2017+Aftermath%2FInterscope
Kendrick Lamar dressed as a priest in the opening scene of

Kendrick Lamar dressed as a priest in the opening scene of "Humble." Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope

Kendrick Lamar dressed as a priest in the opening scene of "Humble." Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope

Anisha Brady

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE” music video—It’s aesthetic, it’s memorable and now it’s viral. But there’s so much more to it. What is most striking about both the song and video is that they’re charged with irony and symbolism that flies over the heads of most people.

2017-04-23 (3) copy_web.png

Kendrick Lamar dressed as a priest in the opening scene of "Humble." Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope


Pope Shot

The video opens with the rapper decked in pope-like robes, standing alone in an empty cathedral, illuminated by the sole window. A religious figure such as the pope represents a modest, honest character—this is relatively straightforward.

2017-04-23 (4) copy_web.png

Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope


Counterfeiting Shot

The scene flips to Lamar sprawled out on a table of counterfeited money with a few skimpily-clad women doing his dirty work for him. This new character is the stereotypical, lavish rapper—one that flaunts his affluence and women to elevate himself. This is essentially what the song is about: Lamar calling out the vanity in high society. What I found contradictory in the new hit was that although Lamar’s purpose was to demonstrate his humility, he bragged a lot about how his pay stubs can buy your a** the world, that his left stroke just went viral, or that he is equal to God in “The Last Supper” shot. Maybe he wants other rappers to feel humbled by his success; maybe he doesn’t know what humble even means.

2017-04-23 (6) copy_web.png

Kendrick is disillusioned by the glossy magazines everyone else at the hair salon seems to be engrossed in. Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope


Hair Salon Shot

The next scene is a bit more cryptic. The rapper is sitting in a hair salon, out of all the women there, he is the only one not being absorbed into a magazine. This could be a sign of his distaste for pop culture and how he feels it brainwashes the masses. He’s trying to say that he is unaffected by superficial gossip or any of the garbage that the paparazzi feeds its audiences.

2017-04-23 (7) copy_web.png

Kendrick Lamar tells the man sitting to his left - presumably another rapper - to sit down and be humble. Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope


“The Last Supper” Shot

The Last Supper scene is one that everybody can recognize and understand. As Lamar sits at the head of the table with other swanky characters (possibly other rappers), he is ordering an obnoxious, high-and-mighty individual to “sit down, be humble.” Lamar’s poverty-stricken beginnings remind him that wealth is a privilege, not a commodity to be taken for granted, and certainly not one to be waved around.

2017-04-23 (8) copy_web.png

Kendrick stands in front of a shipping container surrounded by men with their faces wrapped in rope with their heads lit aflame. Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope


Heads on fire shot

This is one of the more visually striking images of Lamar with the top of his head in flames and a pack of men behind him, their faces concealed with rope, which is also on fire. The meaning behind this is unclear. However, Lamar’s shirt reads “Dreamer” in small print. Compared to the pack of men behind him, this could indicate that he is able to pursue his dreams in a society that feels bound by cultural standards.

underthebridgeweb.png

Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope


Underpass Shot

Here, Lamar is standing in front of a group of men beneath a highway underpass as the camera shifts angles to the beat. This could be a reflection of how the media and other rappers display photos for their viewers so as to alter reality—to make their actual situation appear more impressive, or to give only a limited amount of information.

greypupon_web.png

Kendrick Lamar smears Grey Poupon on a piece of bread after handing it through his car window to another man in the back seat of a car. Photo credit: Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope


Grey Poupon Shot

A knowledge of Grey Poupon’s cultural context is needed to understand the irony in this part of the video. The brand’s iconic commercial in 1981, gave their over priced product a bougie stigma. A lot of rappers since then have referred to Grey Poupon as a luxury in their songs. In this scene, Lamar is seated backseat in a car spreading Grey Poupon on a piece of toast, as he passes the jar to another rapper in an adjacent car. What Lamar is wanting to communicate is that a lot of rappers put up this luxurious front, but what they don’t understand is that these material items are actually cheap luxuries, just like the Grey Poupon. Their fancy belongings don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things.

There is way more to the video that this analysis can even cover. “HUMBLE” was an impressively well-thought-out video that deserves a much closer look.

Anisha Brady can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.

Print Friendly

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Everyone has a theory in ‘Casting JonBenet’

  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Movies to reminisce on the college experience

  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Surviving the Chico summers

  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Splashh from the past

  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Summer albums of the week

  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Summer blockbusters to splash on your social calendar

  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Guardians of the Galaxy is out of this world

  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Tin$ley Talk

  • Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’

    Arts & Entertainment

    Albums of the week

  • Arts & Entertainment

    1078 says goodbye with Alma Mudder

The student news site of California State University, Chico
Kendrick Lamar gets culturally rich with ‘HUMBLE’