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Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA.” Music Video: Hang on for Dear Life

Kung Fu Kenny enlisted Don Cheadle, a polygraph, and a hot box to make a video that matches the most adrenaline-pumping track off ‘Damn.’

(Top Dawg Entertainment)
(Top Dawg Entertainment)

“DNA.” may not be the best song on Kendrick Lamar’s Damn., his first album proper since 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly, because which song is “best” is a fluid matter subject to taste, preference, the weather, the exact hour of day, yada yada yada. But ask yourself this: Of the album’s 14 tracks, which one made you want to knock out a thousand push-ups and then conquer that Saturn moon that has most of the conditions needed to sustain life? Exactly.

Shared on Tuesday, the “DNA.” music video is codirected by Nabil (who’s worked with the likes of Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and Vince Staples) and the Little Homies (a producer pseudonym for Kendrick and his manager Dave Free), and begins with DON FUCKING CHEADLE working Lamar over in a holding cell. “You know what DNA stands for?” Cheadle asks. “Dead Nigger Association.”

Things turn sharply left after one incepts and/or mind-melds with the other, and the two start going bar for bar with each other, à la a certain Kevin Garnett And 1 TV spot from 15 years ago.

The first half of this music video is an all-out flex from Kendrick Lamar — he knows the effects of this song border on possession.

Post beat-switch — the grotesqueness of which is impossible to overstate — you’re swept up in a twister of cutaways including but not limited to joyriding, funeral processions, shadowboxing, and Kendrick shaking dice. Like the bars in the second half of the song itself, the flurry of images here lance directly through you, glance off of you, and go over your head. It’s exactly as fun and arresting as the actual song is.

Also, an important update: Schoolboy Q is now 30-plus and still set tripping.