Culture

6 Music Videos Directed by Dave Free and Kendrick Lamar That Redefined Hip-Hop (Watch)

BY Abena Dzaka October 17, 2023 2:16 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Getty Images

In addition to his work as a rapper, Kendrick Lamar has been experimenting as a music video director with Top Dawg Entertainment president, Dave Free.

The lifelong buddies originally connected when they were teenagers and have been collecting footage ever since Compton State of Mind.

In an MTV interview, Free admitted that Compton State of Mind – Kendrick Lamar’s cover of the well-known Jay-Z and Alicia Keys song Empire State of Mind, – was the very first video they directed. The final product was an iMovie montage of rough clips that were shot with a shaky camera.

Dave Free and Kendrick Lamar have moved on from the shaky camera to collaborating on some of Lamar’s most iconic music videos, including those for Poetic Justice and Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.

The dynamic duo received the “Video Director of the Year” award at the just-ended “BET Hip Hop Awards 2023” in recognition of their achievements that changed the essence of hip-hop’s visual storytelling with collaborations like Humble and The Heart Part 5.

The longtime friends and coworkers have come to be known as the ones who create music videos that go above the norm.

In commemoration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, BET Hip Hop Awards took a look back at six music videos that this year’s winners, Dave Free and Kendrick Lamar have directed.

“Humble”

The song HUMBLE is proof of Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free’s inventiveness.

“Alright”

The iconic video of Kendrick rapping while perched atop a traffic signal has endured as a testament to his fortitude.

“The Heart Part 5”

With the help of deepfake technology, The Heart Part 5 showcased the pair’s artistic collaboration by transforming Kendrick into figures like Kanye West and Will Smith.

“Element”

The video redefines the hip-hop narrative, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and self-discovery in the face of adversity through slow-motion combat scenes and poetic images of daily challenges.

“DNA”

In this high-energy video, which fuses hip-hop and Hollywood, Kendrick and Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle give tough interrogation sequences and stirring performances.

“Backseat Freestyle”

One of Dave and Kendrick’s earlier songs is called Backseat Freestyle. The image captures the essence of exuberant youth and creative storytelling.