Yesterday afternoon, Kendrick Lamar released “Element,” the newest video from his acclaimed DAMN. album. And like the video for “Humble” released back before the album dropped in April, it’s a potent brew of sensual, religious, and violent imagery reflecting the complexities of the contemporary African-American experience.
Unlike “Humble,” though, the “Element” video eschews humor for the righteous fury of Kendrick’s “DNA” video, juxtaposing serene images of young black boys reminiscent of this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight, Christian imagery, a couple enjoying a private moment in bed, and brutal, but also beautifully shot, slow-motion scenes of violence. The video also pays explicit homage to pioneering photojournalist and filmmaker Gordon Parks—the first black photographer to work for Life and Vogue magazines—by precisely re-creating some of his most famous photos.
Like “Humble” and “DNA”, the “Element” video was co-directed by the Little Homies, a pseudonym for Top Dawg Entertainment president Dave Free and Kendrick himself; this time around, they collaborated with German fashion photographer Jonas Lindstroem. Previous collaborators for Damn. videos have included Dave Meyers and Nabil Elderkin.