Kendrick Lamar, SZA – All The Stars (Meaning), Highlight of The African Civilization
Forgotten history, forgotten legacy,
Facts of the past sure can influence our future
‘Fore they can face the truth, my people fades to black
Back against the wall, living in a world in war.
Ignorance the number one cause of death
Knowledge and faith the only wealth worth collecting
Culture saved from the shade, Black slaves finally free.
This new video not only introduces the first single from the Black Panther album, by Kendrick Lamar, SZA and The Weeknd, but showcases one the most beautiful visual artistry since Alright and LOVE from Kendrick.
This is most definitely a perfect way to picture Black History in this month of February.
The clip contains a lot of symbols and follows a certain logic to express an impactful message.
Let’s get to the analysis.
Ancient Egyptian Mythology
Black people raising their hands left with nothing but Faith,
The raising hands of a helpless and dying Black people.
Kendrick Lamar, however standing like Moses, is arriving as Charon, the ferryman of the god of death Hades, who carries souls across the Styx, river to the hell.
This very first scene pictures what Kendrick calls the hell on earth when he came in South Africa by the time he was preparing To Pimp A Butterfly.
“I don’t see Compton I see something much worse, the land of the landmines, the hell that’s on earth”. Complexion
“We all came on a boat looking for hope, all you can say is that you’re looking for dope
These days ain’t no compromise, your pain ain’t mines half the time […] – Cape Town.” untitled 08
This image also exists in the Ancient Egyptian religion, with The Celestial Ferryman would navigate the soul through the winding waters of the Underworld.
Save the children
“This is for the kids” – Kendrick Lamar.
“Barefoot babies with no cares” Complexion
The visual continues with this idea of death as the face of a sad woman is shown above a group of kids attending royal funerals.
Red in South Africa refers to mourning, violence and sacrifices. Therefore all the kids wearing a red hat implies they’re either dead or mourning the death of their beloved friends and family.
Kendrick stands among these children, with the will to go and save them, empathetic, feeling their pain, wearing orange, which is also associated with mourning death in Egypt.
“You can bring a bullet, bring a sword
Bring a morgue, but you can’t bring the truth to me” All The Stars
Afrofuturism is no news to African-American recording artists.
Last year, we listened to this Joey Bada$$ song which sampled Sun Ra (from: Space Is the Place, 1974), and its concept of Afrofuturism. The goal is to critique the present-day dilemmas of black people, and to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.
That way, African intellectual (musicians, writers,..) use the codes of science fiction, technology, magic, historical fiction, as well as hints of Afrocentrism and the Egyptian civilization, symbol of prosperity and royalty in the history of Africa, as well Ancient Ethiopia.
The idea of space is really important too. That’s why you can hear Joey Bada$$ rapping “[he’s] just a black spade spawned out the nebula.” – GOOD MORNING AMERIKKKA.
From the same idea you can appreciate SZA singing the hook:
“‘Cause maybe the night and my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer”.
Dancing in the stars is also a way to feel closer with ancestors, enjoying the present, looking forward to the future with the memory of the past.
Société des ambianceurs et des personnes élégantes (SAPE). Sapology is the movement from Congo Kinshasa and Congo Brazzaville in opposition to the Western fashion trends.
The Sapology movement owns its proper clothing identity and has been challenging Paris trends for over 100 years.
This is an original message of self-expression and self-affirmation to the White world.
To continue with this idea of standing for your ground, Kendrick states the following :
“I recognize you far as confidence and calculated promises all in your conversation […]
Corrupted man’s heart with a gift
That’s how you find out who you dealin’ with
A small percentage, whom I’m building with
I want the credit if I’m losing or I’m winning” – All The Stars
He’s clearly adressing himself to the capitalist Western society, just like he did in untitled:
(What the white man say?)
A piece of mine’s That’s what the white man wanted when I rhyme
Telling me that he selling me just for $10.99
If I go platinum from rapping, I do the company fine
What if I compromise? He said it don’t even matter
You make a million or more, you living better than average You losing your core following, gaining it all
He put a price on my talent, I hit the bank and withdraw
Hit the bank and withdraw, hit the bank and withdraw
Put myself in the rocket ship and I shot for the stars
Look at what you accomplished and what he said to the boy
I’ma make you some promises that you just can’t ignore” – Untitled 3
NEGUS, Black Royalty, Black Panther – Long Live The King.
Walking in a forest of dead trees, King Kendrick is on his Soul searching.
Wearing Black Panther clothes is not just a hint to the movie he is promoting, but is a fact that he’s retracing his forgotten Black history.
When he sang I (Love Myself), this wasn’t only for the people suffering from suicide tendencies, but this was also for the Black community and diaspora, too divided or not enough united. Recognizing our history and identity, acknowleging your past can help you moving forward.
Let’s notice that he’s wearing here a yellow hat, which stands for richness, and being aware of your inheritance is worth gold.
What is more, in Ancien Egypt, yellow would also mean eternity and immortality. Then having Kendrick is a wood of dead trees implies the idea that he and his people (the panthers) won’t die, but multiply and are still stepping.
“I promised Dave I’d never use the phrase “fuck nigga”
He said, “Think about what you saying: ‘Fuck niggas’
No better than Samuel on Django
No better than a white man with slave boats”
Sound like I needed some soul searching
My Pops gave me some game in real person
Retraced my steps on what they never taught me
Did my homework fast before government caught me
So I’ma dedicate this one verse to Oprah
On how the infamous, sensitive N-word control us
So many artists gave her an explanation to hold us
Well, this is my explanation straight from Ethiopia
N-E-G-U-S definition: royalty; King royalty – wait listen
N-E-G-U-S description: Black emperor, King, ruler, now let me finish
The history books overlook the word and hide it
America tried to make it to a house divided” – I (Love Myself)
Suggestive color coding
SZA gets back with a shining and triumphant red in the background, before turning into pink.
While Kendrick paints the idea of death and extermination of the culture, SZA stands as the allegory for life and love.
Pink refers to the Carribean, with vivid colors of the wax and the vibrant dances which all suggest something more cheerful.
From the joy and celebration we go to more quiet emotions with blue visuals. This color sets up some kind of peace, wisdom, purity.
More thn this, throughout to thie blue color, the video shows warriors (maybe a reference to Ethiopian warriors).
Shades of gold follow up these blue pictures.
The part of SZA is an actual celebration for life, and embraces to the fullest the African culture within our skin, our dances, our fashion…
Closer to the African Civilisation, History and Spiritualities