When Kendrick Lamar
released his fourth studio album DAMN.
back in April, "ELEMENT." quickly became a fan favorite. The lyrics are heavy and incredibly honest, as most of Kendrick's are, but when the chorus kicks in the track becomes more relatable to listeners. Kendrick creates a "screw you" type of aura saying, "If I gotta go hard on a bitch I'ma make it look sexy / I pull up, hop out, air out, made it look sexy / They won't take me out my element." Rules to live by: 1. Don't let anyone take you out of your element and 2. Always make it look sexy. The content of the "ELEMENT." video, however, is a bit far off from sexy.
Within the first 30 seconds of the video we are met with images of bloodied men and a wooden shed engulfed in flames. I doubt that anyone expected Kendrick to try to paint the content of his music in a positive light, because that isn't what it is and that isn't him. He couldn't create a video for a song that outlines the struggles he's faced with both himself and his family without showing the aspects of the environment he found himself in when dealing with that. This explains why we see a young boy being taught how to throw punches, and being physically shaken when he refuses to hit the older man teaching him. If this boy was supposed to represent Kendrick as a child, he has most definitely grown out of not wanting to fight others. At one point, we see Kendrick rapping in a white t-shirt adorned with spots of blood leading from his neck downwards; but, it isn't clear whose blood it is. I mean, we see him slap a man in the face hard enough that his grandchildren will feel it–but I don't think it was enough to draw blood. Actually, the blood most likely came from the man he struck across the face with a pool stick. That makes sense.
Kendrick is often painted as a voice of the black community, rightfully so, and this video is just another display of him living up to this role. Obviously, not everyone who watches this will know what it's like to live with the demands of the kind of like that is portrayed in "ELEMENT.," but they were all offered a glimpse into it–even if they will never completely comprehend it.