After releasing “The Heart Part 4” last week (a track that included a lyrical diss to President Trump), Kendrick Lamar is at it again. Last night, the Compton-born rapper dropped yet another single and accompanying music video on YouTube (further proof that his highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly is closer than we previously thought). Titled “Humble,” the three-minute visual masterpiece sees Lamar dressed as the Pope, sitting in Jesus’ chair in a reenactment of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and drying under a hood at a salon while spouting fiery lyrics that teeter on satire and call for a collective humbling of society and the rap community.
But one part in particular struck a chord with us. Roughly halfway through, Lamar expresses his frustration with today’s impossible beauty standards: “I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop / Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor / Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.” The screen splits in two; on the left is a black woman with natural curls and bare skin, and on the right is that same woman airbrushed within an inch of her life replete with straight strands and fake lashes (a site that’s more common in today’s social media-obsessed world thanks to editing apps like Facetune). One scene also shows a bodacious bum in all its glory—including stretch marks and cellulite. It’s an image that makes viewers take pause not because it’s a butt in a rap video (we’ve seen about a billion booties in action on yachts, poles, dance floors, and beaches over the years), but because it’s not the taut, toned, impeccable ass our eyes have naturally come to expect. Sure, “Humble” is in no way a feminist manifesto (let’s get real, this scene objectifies women just like every rap video that came before it), but the greater statement it sends about embracing so-called “flaws” is one that we can’t help but applaud.
Lamar has been known to be something of musical powerhouse in terms of shedding light on politics and current affairs, particularly in the black community, which is why the 29-year-old has often been likened to late rappers such as Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. While Lamar’s new video is no “Formation” in terms of its empowering message, kudos to him for promoting body positivity at a time when we could all use a serious dose of reality in our carefully crafted (and filtered) lives.