Celebrity Style

Kendrick Lamar’s New Music Video Makes Use of Striking Architectural Sites in Texas

The visual component of the rapper’s new song, “N95,” has already racked up millions of views on YouTube
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Rapper Kendrick Lamar released his fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, on May 13. Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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.

“We are excited to collaborate with artists and makers to create new works inspired by the art and architecture at the Kimbell. We are honored to be selected for Kendrick Lamar’s N95 music video,” Kimbell Art Museum director Eric M. Lee tells AD

Photo: Nic Lehoux

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.

Fort Worth Water Gardens in downtown Fort Worth, Texas.

Photo: Inge Johnsson / Alamy Stock Photo

The Fort Worth Water Gardens are altogether different in both form and materials from the Piano Pavilion. Located in Downtown Fort Worth, the sunken meditation pools look positively otherworldly. Walkways, terraces, and pools are spread through the concrete geometric form that was constructed in late 1974 and used in two ’70s sci-fi movies—Logan’s Run and The Lathe of Heavenplus in the 2019 music video for Solange’s “Almeda.” Though beautiful, the tranquility is hampered by its architect Philip Johnson’s documented history of white supremacy and Nazi sympathizing, which has since led to the removal of his name from the thesis home he created while studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.


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