With his critically applauded, epic — and now, Grammy-nominated — good kid, m.A.A.d city, — Kendrick Lamar used rhymes to tell a chilling story of a boy becoming a man in the gang-driven streets of Compton, California. And while every track on the poetic album was almost disturbingly honest, it was the haunting (and “definitely true”) “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” that hit the hardest.
A narration about the death of his partner’s brother, “Sing About Me” is a sprawling 12 minutes long, which is why, when it came time to release the video on Friday (December 20), Kendrick decided to divide it into chapters.
And like “Sing About Me” opts for stripped-down production to focus on the story, part one of the video (directed by Darren Romanelli) is a pretty simple thing, featuring graffiti artist Eddie Peake.
“When the lights shut off, an artist’s dream is that their work will stand the test of time,” it reads before the visual starts. “The ones that influence our culture are the ones we most remember. Here, two powerful creative forces come together to elevate the status quo and lay ground to their legacy. This is their poetry. Sing about them. This is part one.”
While Lamar, dressed modestly in a Dodgers sweatshirt, rolls slowly through the streets of Compton, Peake, alone in an abandoned building, uses everyday clothing and spray paint to create a visual featuring the track’s lyrics — “infatuated with death,” “never fade away” and “my main concern” among them — as if Lamar was putting in ink his promise that he’ll sing about his fallen friend. It closes out as Kendrick raps to the camera “my imagination is surely an aggravation of threats.”
It’s a story that clearly still affects Lamar, one he opened up about with MTV News in October of last year.
“First verse is speaking from my partner talkin’ to me, speakin’ on a story of how I was there when his brother passed and I got to watch him take his last breath,” he explained of the song’s concept.”He definitely passed too.”
Part two of “”Sing About Me,” titled “Dying of Thirst,” will drop will drop in January.