Kendrick Lamar's new video for "Humble" calls out problematic beauty expectations
No stranger to statement-making music and performances, Kendrick Lamar has once again leveled up. The rapper has always been vocal about his beliefs and politics, specifically relating to the experience of Black Americans today, and Lamar’s latest video “Humble” brings this same power to the mainstream. His newest single made its video debut last night on YouTube, and with over five million views, it’s safe to say this is some of Lamar’s most stunning work. The video features striking visuals woven with religious iconography and pro-black imagery throughout. The most notable part of the video, however, has to be when the rapper calls out media’s backwards expectations of women’s beauty.
Kendrick raps, “Show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor,” and as he says this a woman walks across the screen, transforming from having her hair slicked back and makeup done in a sexy dress, to wearing a white tank top, natural hair big and beautiful, and little to no makeup on. When Lamar starts saying “show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks” you see a woman’s butt in all its natural glory, stretch marks and all.
Although some women see this as potentially problematic, especially since the lyrics following this proclamation are “still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks,” it’s more multifaceted than that. We know that a woman’s beauty doesn’t depend on if a man wants to sleep with her or not.
Women are beautiful if they wear ten pounds of makeup or none at all, with or without stretch marks and cellulite galore.
And regardless of how contradictory the lyrics may seem, the fact is that mainstream musicians don’t often praise the natural beauty of women’s bodies, much less encourage the media to show them in their natural light. So the fact that Kendrick Lamar is taking the time to celebrate a woman without makeup, with natural hair and with stretch marks, is pretty revolutionary.
With a new album underway, we’re crossing our fingers it’s as good as “Humble.” Here’s to hoping it is, and that more musicians follow Kendrick’s lead.