Kendrick Lamar caused a stir last week when he addressed some of the recent violence against blacks in America, including the killing of Michael Brown, and wondered, "when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us?"
On "Heaven Help Dem," he bounces back from the interview mic to the one in the booth to again tackle these issues, rapping alongside Canadian artist Jonathan Emile.
While Emile directly touches on the deaths of youths of color -- name-checking individuals killed by police, from Brown, to Trayvon Martin, to Amadou Diallo, to Fredy Villanueva, to Sean Bell -- K. Dot delves into the sort of tales of violence that peppered his good kid, m.A.A.d city album.
"He woke up brushed his teeth then jumped in the shower/ Stared at the mirror after he dried his face with a towel/ And said, 'This can be the day I might pass away/ From a altercation my homie got into yesterday/ Or mistaken identity him thinking I was his enemy/ When I never seen him a day in my life'/ This is life for a young black man/ With his future and his burner in his hand."
The visuals, meanwhile, offer an array of powerful images, from Civil Rights-era rallies to those going on today; from high school yearbook photos of murdered black teens to the death of Eric Garner.
Of course, this is far from the first time that the Cali native has addressed these sorts of topics in his music. In December, he explained to MTV News why he takes that approach.
“It’s something that I’ve been around since the beginning of time," he said. "I remember coming up in the city of Compton and [seeing] these same types of ordeals. So when I make a record like 'i,' this is not just about me. It’s about what’s going on in real life, actual [facts].”