Gordon Parks Foundation Shares Their Reaction To Kendrick’s “ELEMENT.” Video

Kendrick Lamar recently dropped the music video for his song “Element” and many viewers noticed how several of the video’s scenes are inspired by Gordon Parks‘ photography.

READ: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Element’ Owes Itself To Famed Black Photographer Gordon Parks

The video’s beautiful shots contrast against its narrative where themes of poverty and violence are displayed throughout the almost four-minute-long video. However, director Jonas Lindstroem (alongside the Little Homies) humanizes these moments to where they don’t feel exploitative or glamorized, but rather an unfortunate inevitability— a commentary on problems that are inescapable.

Such was Parks’ work. The iconic black photographer used his eyes to tell the stories of black people across America, as well as Americans who were poverty-stricken. In his black and white (and sometimes color) photos, you see the humanity in faces young and old; black and white; famous and everyday people. The realism in the images are beautifully poignant, and it is incredible to see Lindstroem and the Little Homies bring some of Parks’ pictures to life.

WATCH: Kendrick Lamar’s Dark And Edgy Video For “ELEMENT.”

“The Gordon Parks Foundation is pleased to see Kendrick Lamar recognize Gordon Parks’ important photography while working at life magazine and honoring his legacy,” Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., the Executive Director of the Gordon Parks Foundation, said. “The Gordon Parks Foundation uses Gordon’s creative work to educate and inspire young artists.”

As for Kunhardt’s favorite scene that recreated one of Parks’ photos? The scene of the boy with a ladybug crawling on its forehead, which is inspired by Parks’ “Boy With June Bug.” Taken by Parks back in 1963 while visiting his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas, the child is given a name, Newt, in Gordon’s semi-autobiography The Learning Tree (which would later be adapted into a film by Parks, which resulted in him becoming Hollywood’s first major black director.)

“That was one of Gordon’s photos he did while he was working on [semi-autobiography] The Learning Tree,” Kunhardt said. “So to see a contemporary artist like Kendrick see and understand the importance of that work spoke the most to me. It was so important to Gordon.”

ELEMENT. (Official Video, Explicit) by Kendrick Lamar on VEVO.

Check out Parks’ work at the Gordon Parks Foundation website.

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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Elijah C. Watson

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