Directed by Nabil and The Little Homies, the video, which has racked up over 12 million views in less than 48 hours, co-stars veteran actor Don Cheadle, who Kendrick cast to play an interrogation cop turned possessed rapper.
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In a new interview with Pitchfork, during which he reveals he had just two days to memorize Kendrick's first verse for the video shoot, Cheadle spoke glowingly of Kendrick, touching on what, specifically, makes him such a special artist.
He’s just real and straight-up and honest and truthful and generous to the degree that he lets you in. He lets you see the cracks in the armor. He lets you see his insecurities and all that stuff. It’s just rare to have any kind of artist do that—especially a hip-hop artist. He’s kind of the anti-hip-hop artist in that way.
Hearing someone call Kendrick Lamar "anti-hip-hop" might, at first, seem like equal parts trolling and madness, but Cheadle's analysis of Lamar's is actually spot on.
Kendrick's success in the music industry and his current standing in the hip-hop pantheon are largely the results of his sincerity as an artist. While tackling serious topics, such as religion or fear, is not unprecedented in hip-hop—Drake and Kanye both made a career out of being vulnerable—it's Kendrick's brutally honest worldview and inviting personality that has, in addition to his musical talents, helped to separate him from the mainstream rap world pack.