While rappers have shot notable music videos on beaches, atop boats, in mansions, and around cartoon houses, architectural landmarks in Fort Worth, Texas, set the stage for a new video by Kendrick Lamar.
In one early scene, Kendrick descends into a cascading fountain via a long concrete staircase. Those familiar with Dallas–Fort Worth modernism will recognize the backdrop as the Wet Wall and Quiet Pool, part of the downtown Fort Worth Water Gardens. Designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee in 1974, the 4.5-acre complex’s pools invite exploration and offer a respite from the Texas heat. (The outdoor theme continues with a super-short sunset shot in the lush greenhouse of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.)
The Kimbell Art Museum makes an appearance, too. Lamar raps about personal authenticity and “designer bullshit” while sitting at a piano in a spacious hall. That hall is the Renzo Piano Pavilion (pictured at top), designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in 2013 to complement Louis Kahn‘s original 1970s museum.
To bring the film to life, Lamar and his team worked with Red Productions, a production company based in Fort Worth, Austin, and Los Angeles, to shoot on location in both Fort Worth and L.A.
The arty Texas shots “[are] a testament to the fact we have these great locations here and an appreciation of art in Fort Worth,” Red Sanders, president of Red Productions, told the Dallas Morning News.
The settings were selected both for their architectural merit and for COVID compliance, Sanders explained. Red Productions, Lamar, and Lamar’s longtime collaborator Dave Free developed the concept in 2020 when shooting indoors and in public was more of a logistics hassle and safety concern than usual.
IMDB lists Lamar and Free as the video’s co-directors.
As of today, “N95” is the number three trending music video on YouTube and it is Lamar’s most-streamed song on Spotify. Although Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers album is selling well, successful releases aren’t new to the Compton, California-born artist: Lamar has won 14 Grammys as well as the Pulitzer Prize in music, becoming the first rapper to win in that category.