It only makes sense that the most theatrical song of the year gets such a dynamic visual treatment, as Kendrick Lamar‘s “We Cry Together” takes a concentrated and rightfully literal approach towards its argumentative and therapeutic subject matter.
When Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers first dropped, “We Cry Together” was the song that everyone was talking about. Not because it’s the best or worst song on the album, but because it challenged audience’s preconceived notions about how you can tell a story through music.
Was it truly a song? An elongated skit? An experiment in rhythm and vocal cadence? Now that we have the Jake Schreier, Dave Free, Kendrick Lamar directed short film, it’s clear that it’s not only all of the above, but almost required viewing for those who’ve only sonically experienced this freeform clash of ego, vitriol and love.
The music video lets you know of its intentions immediately, with a spiraling one-shot lurking towards Lamar and Taylour Paige with intent, like it knows where this argument is heading. The second stark detail is the absence of dubbing these arguments, instead powerfully relying on the rawness of their lightly echoed vocals to really strap us into this combative environment. A dreary, shaded color pallet blankets the video to reaffirm an already claustrophobic tone.
If you’ve heard the song, I don’t need to reiterate much here from a lyrical standpoint. Fruitless blaming, name-calling, and “f*ck you’s” bounce around the mix like pinballs, as The Alchemist’s production is really the only controlled variable at play. Kendrick and Taylour verbally thrash each other like clockwork, as societal shortcomings become the fault of one another.
The vilification of one another perpetually morphs from a battle of egos to a rekindling of sorts, leading to a climax of multiple proportions. As the two find love within their hate on the couch, the camera pans out, revealing an extravagant set and removing us from the situation as the two continue to go at it.
Kendrick Lamar has been crafting some of the most intuitive and demanding music videos of the last decade, from the vacant voids of darkness in “Swimming Pools (Drank)” to the multitude of symbolic vignettes in “Alright“. It’s more than fair to say that “We Cry Together” earned its right to be in the same conversation as the rest.
Check out ‘We Cry Together’ Below!