Kendrick Lemar’s latest music video ‘All Of The Stars’ is filled with symbolism and astute artistic concepts. The symbols and the inspirations in the video are mainly derived from African culture, yet there are some religious/spiritual images used in the video. In my opinion the main purpose of the video is to express Kendrick Lemar’s personal journey to finding and appreciating his African roots. In addition to this the music video is a ode to Black women. In this essay I will be analysing eight scenes in the 3:52 Clip.
Scene 1: The Moses scene
Descritpion: In the opening scene we see Kendrick Lemar in a reed boat literally floating on a sea of hands waving towards his destination.
The sea of hands has a double meaning, on one part the waving hands could signify a crowd of cheering – waving fans, and therefore relate to the song lyrics, but the darkness of the scenery reflect a sense of sadness which is about dealing with fame, one constant theme in Kendrick Lemar’s music is survivors guilt, this when person believes they have done something wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not, this could be his friends or family that are still in the environment he grew up in.
On a another level the sea of hands is widely believe to represent all the enslaved Black-Africans who died in the middle-passage (up to 10 millions people) the likelihood that this scene relate to the African history in the new world is highly probable as the boat that he rides on is very similar to the reed boats which the honorable African historian Ivan Van Sertima claimed African used to visit the America’s, in his book “They Came Before Colombus”, this is profound as it further underscore the idea of going home, by using the vessels African’s would have used to the travel to the new world.
Scene 2: Mama Africa
Description: In this scene we see the first place Kendrick is going to on his journey, the scene shows a a very dignified Black woman in a whit robe which forms a refuge for young kids , at the heart of this refuge is the image of a man
Meaning: The fact that the shelter is in the form of a woman goes back to African Diaspora concept of “Mama Africa” and Africa being the “Mother Land” of Black people. Her white robes represent peace, and her headwear looks striking similar to the one we see on the bust of the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, possibly to signify the magnificence and rehality of Africa and Black women and/or African history and culture.
The fact that this is the first stop on Kendrick journey is important because it sends the message of him humbling himself among the younger generation.
Scene 3:A Fela called Kuti
Description: In this scene we see Kendrick step into the centre of the band of children, who are all in African garments and a red cap on. In the background there’s a picture of Fela Kuti.
Meaning: In the Igbo tradition these red caps are know as ‘Nzes’, ‘Ichies’, ‘Ozos’ among other names, there are a sign of Chieftaincy or the men with authority in Igboland, it is significant that we see young girls wearing this garment as well because it suggest a hope for gender parity in the young (future)African leadership. The image of Fela kuti, could be Kendrick’s way of relating his musical lineage to the great African musician and frankly shows a level of understanding and appreciation of the African musical tradition which is often neglect in contemporary American music industry who appropriate African musical forms without any real understanding of it’s legacy and importance to this new generation.
Scene 4: The world’s strongest side eye (lol JK)
Description: In this scene we see one of the few close up shots of the models in the video, the important aspect of this scene is her earring, which are red, yellow, green and black.
Meaning: These are the Pan-African colours, which are the basis for more than two thirds of African flags. They were derived from the colours of the Ethiopian flag, Ethiopia being an very inspirational nation in the mid 20th century because it was the only African country to successfully resist colonialism. The Red is for power and faith; yellow for church, peace, natural wealth and love; and green for land and hope. On deeper level the earrings follow the colour pattern of traffic lights, with the addition of black, if we follow the meaning behind the traffic light progression, Red is for stop, Amber for caution, Green for go and Black therefore for something beyond go. i.e. Black Excellence!