Through Kendrick Lamar’s raw truth in 2017s DNA, we saw an unpeeling of the many layers that have seemed to build an unstable foundation for the black culture and what people would like us to understand regarding their treatment and handling in the US, and in the UK for that matter. Now, knock that crumbling imposter down, we are left with the lyrics and visual representation in the DNA track, taken off Kendrick’s recent album DAMN.
This song does a great job of making every single listener feel something. Whether it be anger, passion, or empathy. I certainly felt all three emotions and probably more.
Certainly, in the first verse, we have a specific focus on different perspectives of the black culture, and the features that are built into their DNA. Kendrick does a great job of keeping that sharp and exhilarating flow that gives us a rush of emotions as we feel his rage and vehemence.
When we reach the bridge leading to the powerful second verse, we hear a clip of Fox reporters criticizing Kendrick’s music: ‘This is why I say hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years.’
Given the controversial statement, Kendrick continues into his second verse, the very verse that actually made me say DAMN out loud. This verse captures a snapshot of Kendrick’s fury towards the social structure in his country. America has, and is still facing scrutiny for its class systems and police mentality (and rightly so). If hip-hop were a game-changer in racism, Kendrick’s DNA lyrics would have certainly chewed up the system and spat it out right in front of the victims it has forced wrath on.
Can we please now move onto the video? Especially for the first verse, because no matter how many times I seem to watch it, and believe me when I say I account for at least one million views, I always seem to get goosebumps! Take Don f*cking Cheadle and put him in a room with Kendrick Lamar…exhilirating!
The cliche ‘The truth will set you free’ is brought to life in this clip where Don Cheadle, a fellow black citizen with authority and power, assumes his position can disregard the position that Kendrick is in and the battle that the black community faces every day. And as Kendrick spits out his verse (and truths), we can see the lie detector going crazy implying no matter what, police choose to ignore their truths and decide their victim’s fate almost instantly. We see both characters engage in this spitting battle of truths as Don Cheadle becomes increasingly passionate, we see his true DNA appearing as Kendrick speaks. As both cave, Kendrick is finally set free, hence the statement ‘The truth will set you free’.