Fittingly for a Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper, Kendrick Lamar’s new music video has raised the bar for musicians everywhere. Racking up nearly 4.5 million views on YouTube since its release three days ago, Lamar’s almost entirely black-and-white video for the song “N95” has drawn a lot of attention to the musician’s new album, Mr. Morale and Big Steps, but also, surprisingly, in Fort Worth, Texas, as CBS News reports from the city. Whether intentionally or not, with the inclusion of the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Renzo Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum, the music video makes the case for a visit to the city that is often left in the shadows. from nearby Dallas.
At the start of the clip, which was co-directed by Lamar and Dave Free, the rapper is seen floating above a beach shore like a Christ with outstretched arms. Much like his deepfake music video for “The Heart Part 5” which also sparked a lot of conversations when it was released in early May, this opening image combined with the video’s quick cuts sets an unsettling overall tone. Structures in Fort Worth are used to a similar effect, extending the sense of hyperreality in the video, while sparking curiosity about where on earth it might be.
The Kimbell Art Museum’s Renzo Piano Pavilion appears first at 0:53, specifically the building’s 299-seat auditorium. Lamar and two women are on stage, their silhouettes accentuated by the wall of windows behind them. Panels on the side walls and ceiling of the auditorium reflect this light, creating a frame or dollhouse effect surrounding the band on stage. Piano is known for his expressive uses of glass (take for example his London building “The Shard”) and “N95” brilliantly captures the drama of the architect’s structures.