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It can be easy to watch a music video once, applaud it, and then move on, but something that Kendrick does consistently is put out videos that people can’t watch just once. He did it with “HUMBLE.” and same goes for “Alright.” And now, the major enhancement that he brings to the “ELEMENT.” video is the homage he pays to Gordon Parks.
Gordon Parks was a photographer, writer, musician and filmmaker who was a pioneer for many black Americans in the 40s. His work depicted the life and struggle that many African-Americans faced such as poverty and the fight for civil rights. Parks is also dubbed the creator of “blaxploitation” genre which were films that featured mostly black actors aimed at a black audience.
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Kayo Genesis Wakes the World Up with New Video, “Woke”: Watch
Obviously, Lamar and Parks have a similar vision of what the black American lifestyle is like and how the struggle is a constant fight that black people have to face every day. What makes the ELEMENT. video so great to me is the way Lamar uses Parks’ still shots and makes them moving works. The whole video to me is a back and forth of both artists working off of each other. Kendrick brings the more modern look to the video along with a heavy beat and strong lyrics while Parks’ ideas are exemplified and used as a base for the whole message of the video.
I applaud Kendrick for being a genius in the way that he finds ways to incorporate past art into his own art. I think the message of “ELEMENT.” is made clearer with the references to Parks’ images and it shows that not much has changed for black people. The Gordon Parks Foundation even praised Kendrick for “using Gordon’s creative work to inspire young artists.” Overall, ELEMENT.’s music video isn’t just good, it is art.