On Saturday, Kendrick Lamar followed the release of his new album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, with a cinematic music video for “N95”.

The album, which plays out in two nine-track acts, is a sprawling statement examining everything from religious faith to childhood abuse to reconciling survivor’s guilt to balancing public perceptions of greatness with personal flaws. The “N95” video, directed and executive produced by Lamar and Dave Free via their production company, pgLang, is as stylistically bold and conceptually layered as Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers itself.

Loosely referencing the coming pandemic spring, Lamar addresses his own inner struggle as he urges listeners to strip away layers of masks and examine their true selves. Dovetailing with the religious themes on the album cover, the stark video cycles through an array of grandiose, messianic representations of the lauded rapper—though his face rarely shifts from a forlorn frown that seems to say, “you cast me this way, but you got it all wrong.”

Highlighting a striking contrast from its opening moments, Kendrick’s nursery rhyme-like intro (“Hello new world, all the boys and girls, I got some true stories to tell”) rings out under rows of red text announcing, “THIS SHIT HARD.” These textual proclamations extend a shadow of contradiction over the rest of the video, the message at once playing into tropes of street bravado and addressing the heavy load of the hip-hop savior complex.

That theme is reflected in various vignettes and aesthetic decisions throughout the clip, from a mirror image of the rapper shattering as he raps “take off your idols” to a shot of him being chased by a group of men as he laments, speaking for the public, “The world in a panic, the women is stranded, the men on the run. The prophets abandoned, the law take advantage…” Those prescient words appear again as Kendrick runs for his life from the scorned masses: “THIS SHIT HARD.”

Related: Kendrick Lamar Tries On Controversial Faces On Poignant Pre-Album Track, “The Heart Part 5” [Watch]

The cursory snapshot above barely scratches the surface of the track’s significance. Countless thematic trailheads litter the clip’s every shot. “N95” is one small piece the complex puzzle that is Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, an album that will surely reveal new layers of meaning through many listens and impassioned discussions. The first video from the record may create more new lines of questioning than it illuminates existing ones, but it undoubtedly elicits a visceral reaction and continues to establish the ambitious project’s foreboding yet vulnerable aesthetic.

Watch the official music video for “N95” by Kendrick Lamar below. Listen to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers here.

Kendrick Lamar – “N95” (Official Video)

Kendrick Lamar will hit the road this year for a lengthy arena trek billed as The Big Steppers Tour. Following appearances at Milano Summer Festival in Italy and Glastonbury in the U.K. in June, he will hit the road in July for shows in the southern U.S., including a stop at Rolling Loud in Miami, FL on July 24th. Lamar will then perform in major cities on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and along the West Coast, concluding with two shows at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on September 14th and 15th. From there, Kendrick will then head to Europe for shows in October–November, and the tour will wrap up with five concerts in Australia and New Zealand in December.

Tickets for the tour go on sale May 19th at 10 a.m. local time. Click below for a complete list of dates. For ticketing details, head here.

Kendrick Lamar – The Big Steppers Tour Dates


Tue Jul 19 – Oklahoma City, OK – Paycom Center

Thu Jul 21 – Austin, TX – Moody Center

Fri Jul 22 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center

Sat Jul 23 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center

Sun Jul 24 – Miami, FL – Rolling Loud

Wed Jul 27 – Tampa, FL – Amalie Arena

Fri Jul 29 – New Orleans, LA – Smoothie King Center

Sat Jul 30 – Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena

Sun Jul 31 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena

Tue Aug 02 – Charlotte, NC – Spectrum Center

Thu Aug 04 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena

Fri Aug 05 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center

Sat Aug 06 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center

Sun Aug 07 – Long Island, NY – UBS Arena

Tue Aug 09 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center

Wed Aug 10 – Boston, MA – TD Garden

Fri Aug 12 – Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena

Sat Aug 13 – Toronto, ON Scotiabank Arena

Sun Aug 14 – Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena

Tue Aug 16 – Columbus, OH – Schottenstein Center

Thu Aug 18 – Milwaukee, WI – Fiserv Forum

Fri Aug 19 – Chicago, IL  – United Center

Sat Aug 20 – St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center

Sun Aug 21 – Kansas City, MO – T-Mobile Center

Tue Aug 23 – Denver, CO – Ball Arena

Wed Aug 24 – Salt Lake City, UT – Vivint Smart Home Arena

Fri Aug 26 – Portland, OR – Moda Center

Sat Aug 27 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena

Sun Aug 28 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena

Tue Aug 30 – Sacramento, CA – Golden 1 Center

Wed Aug 31 – Oakland, CA – Oakland Arena

Thu Sep 01 – Oakland, CA – Oakland Arena

Tue Sep 06 – San Diego, CA – Viejas Arena at San Diego State University

Wed Sep 07 – Anaheim, CA – Honda Center

Fri Sep 09 – Las Vegas, NV – T-Mobile Arena

Sat Sep 10 – Phoenix, AZ – Footprint Center

Tue Sep 14 – Los Angeles, CA – Crypto.com Arena

Wed Sep 15 – Los Angeles, CA – Crypto.com Arena

Fri Oct 07 – Amsterdam, NL – Ziggo Dome

Mon Oct 10 – Prague, CZ – O2 Arena

Tue Oct 11 – Berlin, DE – Mercedes-Benz Arena

Thu Oct 13 – Hamburg, DE – Barclays Arena

Sat Oct 15 – Copenhagen, DK – Royal Arena

Mon Oct 17 – Stockholm, SE – Avicii Arena

Wed Oct 19 – Oslo, NO – Telenor Arena

Fri Oct 21 – Paris, FR – Accor Arena

Mon Oct 24 – Stuttgart, DE – Scheleyerhalle

Tue Oct 25 – Zurich, CH – Hallenstadion

Wed Oct 26 – Laussane, CH – Vaudoise Aréna

Fri Oct 28 – Antwerp, BE – Sportpaleis

Sun Oct 30 – Cologne, DE – Lanxess Arena

Mon Oct 31 – Frankfurt, DE – Festhalle

Wed Nov 02– Glasgow, UK – OVO Hydro

Thu Nov 03 – Leeds, UK – First Direct Arena

Fri Nov 04 – Newcastle, UK – Utilita Arena

Sat Nov 05 – Birmingham, UK – Utilita Arena

Mon Nov 07 – London, UK – The O2

Tue-Nov 08 – London, UK – The O2

Sun Nov 13 – Dublin, IE – 3Arena

Wed Nov 16 – Manchester, UK – AO Arena

Thu Dec 01 – Perth, AUS – RAC Arena

Sun Dec 04 – Melbourne, AUS – Rod Laver Arena

Thu Dec 08 – Sydney, AUS – Qudos Bank Arena

Mon Dec 12 – Brisbane, AUS – Entertainment Center

Fri Dec 16 – Auckland, NZ – Spark Arena

View Tour Dates