DNA - Kendrick Lamar Meaning

March 4, 2023

dna kendrick lamar meaning


Kendrick Lamar uses this song to talk about the racial and social violence that African American people experience. It is an important topic for Kendrick to address since it emphasizes the relationship between street violence and African American culture (Lamar).

Respectability Politics

Throughout the music video, Lamar addresses racism and prejudices that exist in society. He includes an excerpt from a white Fox News reporter who says that hip-hop has done more damage to young black people than racism in recent years. This quote highlights the existence of respectability politics in society, which shows that a majority group is blaming an aspect of black culture for racism rather than pointing fingers at society itself.

This is also a way to display the negative aspects of respectability politics, which include stereotyping and resentment toward African Americans. Moreover, this song focuses on the violent nature of police brutality against African Americans.

The Video

The music video for "DNA." is co-directed by Nabil Elderkin, who has worked on videos for Frank Ocean, Kanye West, FKA Twigs and Bon Iver. In the music video, Lamar meets actor Don Cheadle in an interrogation room. The video is intense and it has a climax when Cheadle hits the power on the lie detector.

In the song, Kendrick raps about racism and stereotypes in society. He names-drops race barriers, including reef barriers, physical barriers, communication barriers, systemic barriers, and attitudinal barriers. He also takes shots at lawyers, a weight loss center, Curves, and Cricket Wireless.


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