Watch: Kendrick Lamar, “For Free? (Interlude)”
Kendrick Lamar’s incendiary, nothing-short-of-genius To Pimp A Butterfly has recently begun yielding music videos that match the album’s experimental tone. After the recent black and white romp through the streets of an avant garde Oakland in “Alright”, we’re now being treated to a short two-minute burst of intense visual metaphors for “For Free? (Interlude)”, a song so bizarre and humorous on the surface that its enraged political undertones are often overlooked.
The song begins insistently with some rapid-fire jazz and gospel chorus – two genres originating in black culture that were appropriated by white masses, it should be noted – before launching into a woman tirade-ing on Lamar’s voicemail. According to her, he’s not good enough for her; he’s off-brand, broke, and his train has officially left her station, so to speak. We’re then absolutely floored by brilliant verbal buckshot in which Lamar turns this common romantic predicament into a grand comparison to how America treats black men, and how narrowly their success is defined. Suddenly his woman starts looking an awful lot like a master in the big house. And he fittingly does most of the video in an Uncle Sam costume, chillingly reminding listeners that America’s wealth was literally built on his ancestors’ backs.
Directed by Joe Weil & The Little Homies (who also directed “Alright”), the video – along with the song – quickly goes from quirky to dead serious, and both are worth an infinite number of revisits.