Fittingly for a Pulitzer Prize–winning rapper, Kendrick Lamar’s new music video has raised the bar for musicians everywhere. Racking up nearly 4.5 million views on YouTube since it was posted three days ago, Lamar’s nearly all black-and-white video for the song “N95” has drawn a lot of eyes to the musician’s new album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, but also, surprisingly, to Fort Worth, Texas, as the city’s local CBS News reports. Whether intentionally or not, with its inclusion of the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Kimbell Art Museum’s Renzo Piano Pavilion, the music video makes the case for a visit to the town that’s often left in the shadows of nearby Dallas.
At the beginning of the music video, which was co-directed by Lamar and Dave Free, the rapper is seen floating above a beach shore, Christ-like with outstretched arms. Much like his deepfake music video for “The Heart Part 5” which also prompted plenty of conversation when it was released at the beginning of May, this opening image combined with the video’s quick cuts creates an overall unsettling tone. The Fort Worth structures are used to a similar effect, extending the sense of hyperreality in the video, while also creating curiosity over where he could be.
The Renzo Piano Pavilion of the Kimbell Art Museum appears first at 0:53, specifically the building’s 299-seat auditorium. Lamar and two women are on the stage, their silhouettes sharpened by the wall of windows behind them. Panels on the side walls and ceiling of the auditorium reflect this light, creating a frame or dollhouse-like effect surrounding the group on the stage. Renzo Piano is known for his expressive uses of glass (take his London building The Shard for instance), and “N95” brilliantly captures the drama of the architect’s structures.