King Kunta is back, and if all the keyboard click-clacking, Youtube shot-by-by reaction videos and Twitter GIFs are any indication, his new track "Humble" and its video are either the return of a once-in-a-generation rap god or the shittiest visual and aural experience your ears and eyes have ever had the misfortune to see and hear. The Internet isn't exactly the hub of nuance, but you probably already knew that.
There's also speculation (i.e. the keyboard click-clacking) that both song and video are a not-so-subtle critique of the excessive, materialistic, anti-stretch marked messiah complex-heavy strain of rap music videos, and the artists that produce them. Think of it as a 2017 take on The Roots' "What They Do."
My personal take? If "Humble" came on the radio or in the club, I wouldn't flip the station or evacuate the dance floor; however, it didn't immediately grab me by the earbuds like "i," "Alright" or "Swimming Pools" did. Then again, first singles aren't always the best indicator of what an album will sound like. The aforementioned "i" was met with much fan unrest when it first dropped, but when To Pimp A Butterfly was released, nary a side eye was found. Of course, Kendrick on auto-pilot is typically better than a good 50 to 75 percent of what's currently on the radio, so, initial reaction aside, I'm good.
"Humble" is a stunning video, a three-minute, three-second aesthetic feast chocked full of 'Wait, what was that?' moments; I probably haven't replayed a video by a rap artist back so many times since Kanye unleashed "Power" (see what I said about the 'Net and nuance?).
My main concern is that by propping himself up as rap's Jesus to his counterparts' Judas, he's painting himself into a corner as an artist. I love that Kendrick is not flashy and steers away from the standard "make it rain/cooking that crack/keepin' it gangsta/schiohae plleighai you can't understand what the fuck I'm saying" subject matter, or uses those tropes to critique them. But when you set yourself up as a savior you're bound to get crucified, either by fans, or more likely, by sticking nails into your own hands. Next thing you know it's 20 years later and you're a rap icon who only releases new music to pay Uncle Sam. That's when you're not showing up three hours late to your own concerts, then Facebook-splaining about aligning your energy. I see you Miss Hill.
Tread lightly K. Dot. Tread lightly. Watch the video below.