Kendrick Lamar drops video for “DNA” — and it’s FIRE

by Dom Jones

Before you start reading, watch this:

FAM. I haven’t listened to the DAMN album yet. I tend to pause on anything that has too much hype and group think, let the dust settle, and then listen. I happened upon this new video, though, and my curiosity got the best of me. FAM. Whoever the director of this video is or whoever conceptualized the main idea, is slight genius. Having Don Cheadle rap Kendrick’s lyrics? GENIUS (and kind of hilarious). Having Don Cheadle rap Kendrick’s lyrics because he’s seemingly being controlled by the music? GENIUS. Having Don Cheadle rap Kendrick’s lyrics (and at some point back and forth with Kendrick) to a song about the innateness of certain elements of personality/swag/inclination because of biological ancestry in a genre that was created by their (Don and Kendrick’s) predecessors? GENIUS. Am I doing too much? Maybe. But once the music starts, Cheadle is assumed to be under hypnosis, as he begins performing the lyrics:

“I got, I got, I got, I got
Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA
Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA
I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA
I got hustle though, ambition, flow, inside my DNA
I was born like this, since one like this, immaculate conception
I transform like this, perform like this, was Yashua’s new weapon
I don’t contemplate, I meditate and off your fucking head
This that put-the-kids-to-bed
This that I got, I got, I got, I got
Realness, I just kill shit ’cause it’s in my DNA
I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in my DNA
I got dark, I got evil, that rot inside my DNA
I got off, I got troublesome, heart inside my DNA
I just win again, then win again like Wimbledon, I serve
Yeah that’s him again, the sound that engine in is like a bird
You see fireworks and Corvette tire skrrt the boulevard
I know how you work, I know just who you are…”

The video starts with Kendrick in captivity, and Don Cheadle as some detective trying to keep him there, referring to DNA as the “Dead N****s Association.” We hear white noise, and through it, an assumed news report, referencing Kendrick’s “Alright” and a particular line “We think the popo wanna kill us in the street,” and how that (apparently) encapsulates his views on police brutality. Then, Cheadle’s body is accosted by something unseen, and his personality changes. Therein begins the performative exchange between the two. Don eventually sets Kendrick free, and K-dot joins his boys outside for a game of dice.

I could get overly academic here, and talk about how Kendrick is, once again, showing his keen sense of critical observation and critique of how police culture and black culture interact with each other and are illustrated in the media, but to be honest, on a guttural level, the song felt anthemic – in the same vein as music from Lemonade and A Seat at the Table. And while hip-hop is still a global phenomenon, proliferated to the the edges of the earth and consumed by the masses, I still know from whence it came, and that this origin resides in my DNA, is found in my culture/heritage.

I’m still not listening to DAMN in its totality until y’all calm down, though.


About the Author

Dom Jones is a dual major in Music Business and Songwriting, and her work has been published in Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, Blavity and She released her debut album, Wingspan, in 2014 and her follow up EP, Blackbird in 2016. Find out more about her at