This week’s edition of Fire or Hype? takes a look at the second of Kendrick Lamar’s latest singles, which takes a shot at hip-hop as a whole.
With HUMBLE., the Compton MC continues the rap assault on his contemporaries by trading in conscious and sociopolitically aware hip-hop for a trap-influenced banger, with the concepts of being humble and not-so-humble taking centre stage.
The track features a simple piano riff played over some heavy and crisp modern drums and 808s, courtesy of Atlanta producer Mike WiLL Made-It. This instrumental may be telling of the direction that Kendrick will take his next album, which could possibly release on the 7th of April as he hinted on his previous single, The Heart Part 4 (which I reviewed recently).
The track is straight-forward and attention grabbing, which allows Kendrick to deliver his polarizing message clearly. With HUMBLE., he has something to say, and his fellow heavyweight rap stars must listen or risk a beat down from hip-hop’s heaviest hitter.
Kendrick addresses the portrayal of women in modelling as he declares he is “so fu**in’ sick and tired of the Photoshop” and demands that the media show him a woman with stretch marks, or with Richard Pryor’s afro, apparently.
In the hook, Kendrick tells his target(s) to sit down and be humble, in between his brag-bars about the wine he now drinks, how his recent single and music video went viral, and how much money he’s counting. This seems deliberately ironic and is probably a jab at his hip-hop enemies and their over-confidence.
The video for the song is striking and bizarre at times, with powerful religious imagery interspersed with shots of Kendrick playing with money and enjoying the company of his homies. There is also a scene reminiscent of Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady in which Kendrick is surrounded by similar looking men in the same black t-shirts. Albeit without K.dot’s signaure cornrows.
Fire or Hype?: The King of Compton comes through with another top-class banger, with more insane bars than Alcatraz. This new project is shaping up to be a genuine game-changer. This track is Fire!