The music video world used to be where budding directorial talent cut their teeth. They had bigger budgets, more creative freedom, and the opportunity to access gear that was, outside of a professional context, completely inaccessible to amateurs. The democratization of film equipment changed that, but there are still some true auteurs out there who elevate the medium beyond just a vehicle for the music.
The video for Kendrick Lamar’s ‘HUMBLE’ is one such video. Pairing traditional hip hop tropes with overwhelming religious symbolism (a theme Kendrick has leaned on in the past, both lyrically and visually), this video stands out as, in my mind, a more substantial piece of art than the club-banger it is paired with.
Director Dave Meyer is no stranger to the medium. He has had an illustrious career that was atmospherically buoyed by perhaps the most visually stunning and memorable ad campaign of all-time: the silhouettes that sold Apple’s iPod.
Beyond the visual themes, it also features some sweet camera tricks, one of which I haven’t seen in a music video before. First, there is the (almost) cliche 360 degree “mini-world” shot, where Kendrick bikes around what looks like a tiny planet. That’s been done, though. The true stand out shot is the piece shot under the overpass. Using what I presume to be the ultra-cool “Bolt” High Speed Camera, often used for high-speed motion tracking, the director instead uses that tool to precisely track Kendrick’s eye-line, moving from shot to shot absolutely seamlessly. Without this tool, he would have to resort to cuts. You can check out the demo reel for the beast of a rig here:
It’s just really, really impressive.
Whether you’re a rap fan or not, it’s truly worth checking this video out for its stylistic flair.