Kendrick Lamar, who is currently leading this year’s Grammy Awards with 11 nominations, just capped off 2015 with an explicit new video titled “God Is Gangsta.”
The video includes tracks “u” and “For Sale,” both from his newest album released back in March, To Pimp A Butterfly.
The video begins with Kendrick binge drinking alone and mentally spiraling (you can tell by the blurry visual effects and the perpetually spinning bottle in the corner of the frame) as he raps the emotional verses of “u” in a small rustic room to the camera.
The music video cuts to “For Sale,” an interlude on TPAB, and features scenes of Kendrick being held underwater in a pool by a man, Kendrick in a bar and Kendrick slipping in and out of consciousness, surrounded by women but not physically reacting to their sexual advances.
The whole thing ends with him appearing to have drowned, but then cuts to him walking across a bridge at night.
Also, over the course of the video, messages appear in a flash, so quickly that you have to pause the video to read them. Some of these messages include:
I made money. I lost money. I did it again. I followed your rules for way too long. You played the game. I pimped it.
The video seems to be strong visual metaphor for the depression and suicidal thoughts the rapper has spoken openly about struggling with for most of his life.
It’s not uncommon for Kendrick to “die” in his videos, as he does in “God is Gangsta.” In his video for another one of his TPAB tracks, “Alright,” Kendrick is shot off a streetlight by a police officer with a pretend finger gun and falls to his “death.”
However, a parallel between both videos is they never end with him dead.
The music video for “Alright” finishes with Kendrick smiling at the camera after he hits the ground, while “God Is Gangsta” shows him walking off into the night after he “drowns,” a possible message from Kendrick, himself, that he may be down at times, but he's never out.
As it stands, Kendrick is far from either. Leading the Grammy pack with all those nominations and with an album crowned number one in 2015 by Rolling Stone, the Compton-born rapper will be entering 2016 on top of the game.