Thursday night Kendrick unleashed a firestorm on the rest of the world. With the release of the video for HUMBLE., the second single off his upcoming album, Kdot gave us all a stern reminder that he is in rarefied air.
The Dave Meyers-directed video is the perfect complement to a Mike WiLL Made-It beat that has carved out a permanent home in my brain. Kendrick is the Young Pope, Kendrick is shooting money at you off his bed of money, Kendrick is reviving the fisheye music video, Kendrick stands out in a crowd of imitators, KENDRICK DINES AT THE LAST SUPPER, Kendrick burns nooses, Kendrick is Stringer Bell, Kendrick passes the Grey Poupon.
“This that Grey Poupon, that Evian, that Ted Talk”
It’s rare that, with so much information constantly coming at us, someone or something is so great that we stop and reflect on their greatness in the moment. Recently it happened when the Warriors were breaking an all-time wins record that should have never fallen – With every improbable comeback and every ridiculous shooting onslaught, you could sense the unusualness of that team. You get glimpses of it when Aaron Rodgers does something like this, or this. It happened from 2008-2013 when Breaking Bad was changing what television could be. And it’s happening right now, at this exact moment, with Kendrick.
We’re reluctant to give historical importance to the moment we’re in, but it’s important to do so when people do things that will be remembered forever. His album isn’t due out for another week, but after hearing the first couple of tracks, is there any doubt that it will be everything we want and more? He’s on an almost unparalleled run right now – Going back to 2011’s Section.80 he’s strung together four (soon-to-be five) albums that have almost no flaws, one of which was a surprise release of his b-sides.
It’s not just the quality of the albums either – though it’s worth noting that very few artists ever, and only a handful of hip-hop artists, have ever reeled off such a consistent stretch of greatness. Kendrick has, while upping his game each time, evolved as an artist in exactly the way you’d want from someone who was anointed at an early age. He took the raw skill that was explicit on Section.80 and applied it to a structured, biographic masterpiece on good kid, m.A.A.D city. Then, when all you could ask of him was to apply his otherworldly talent to social issues, he did so brilliantly on To Pimp a Butterfly. When the world was in full-on “Kendrick Has Taken the Throne” mode, he dropped a jazz-infused compilation of b-sides just because he could.
“If I quit this season, I still be the greatest”
And now, in 2017 when we’re experiencing an outright assault on culture, Kendrick is back to save us. The next step in the progression – from skilled, to great, to important – is to let the world know that you’ve claimed the title and have no plans to relinquish it. Right now Kendrick is 2012 Lebron – He’s playing games within the game, trying to shoot 60% for the year, winning 27 in a row, and dismantling promising new-comers. So when you’re looping HUMBLE. all weekend, pause for a second and realize that what you’re experiencing doesn’t happen often.