1. Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Never Catch Me”
Death will always be waiting. You know that, I know that, and Flying Lotus knows that. But what about Kendrick Lamar? “Lookin’ down on my soul now, tell me I’m in control now/ Tell me I can live long and I can live wrong and I can live right,” he raps in “Never Catch Me”. Over spastic jazz beats, the Compton MC breathlessly parallels his mortality with his rising career, insisting that he lives strictly for the game and that his accomplishments there will outlast him forever. “I got mind control when I’m here, you gon’ hate me when I’m gone,” he eerily adds, a hypothetical that rings true rather than strictly narcissistic.
The unstoppable Hiro Murai grasps these ideas in his accompanying video for the You’re Dead! single. Slowly, he follows Kendrick throughout his emotional meditation, never getting lost in his words, which is something that’s fairly easy to do when you really stop and think about each line and bar. Instead, he conceived an appropriate pitch — two unstoppable children doing what they do best despite the inevitable — and executed it with startling clarity. Everything from the organic cinematography to the divine choreography is stunning, demanding repeat viewings from here until, well, you know.
In addition to being a rumination on the afterlife, a topic that haunts FlyLo’s latest album, Murai’s work also connects to Kendrick’s own video for “i”. While the latter was directed by Alexandre Moors and the Little Homies, the two share a few striking similarities, most notably the way both the little boy and Kendrick himself tickle their inner Joker by sticking their head out of a car window. It’s an image that speaks to the anarchic, life-loving attitude that pervades both songs, and I don’t think this commonality is a coincidence.
Right now, Kendrick’s on an intriguing path, wedged in between the dangers of self-expression and the pitfalls of personal myopia. “Never Catch Me” is but one chapter in his post-“Control” career, and it’s by far his most intriguing few pages yet. That he was able to bring these thoughts to life with one remarkable music video only speaks to the quality he’s producing and aligning with these days. Like they always say, genius loves company.
— Michael Roffman