Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (2024)

Kendrick Lamar and co-director Dave Free layered the “Not Like Us” video with Easter eggs ripe for fan interpretation. Here’s what they all might mean.

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (1)

ByComplex

Jul 05, 2024

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (2)

via pgLang/YouTube

By:Miki Hellerbach

Since Kendrick Lamar dropped “Not Like Us” on May 4th, and added a proverbial nail to the coffin, Kendrick Lamar has not let up one bit. His Juneteenth Inglewood extravaganza, Ken & Friends: The Pop Out, had the West Coast united in dance-move-riddled braggadocio, stunting on a common enemy. The reverberating impression it left has carried to the video, mostly shot in Compton and fittingly released on the 4th of July. Drake hasn’t had a single US holiday arrive without being met with hate.

The music video features, however, much more than just glee-filled dancing on Drake’s rap grave. Lamar, and co-director Dave Free, layered the visual with easter eggs ripe for fan interpretation. Most of the Easter eggs feel like direct responses to disses Drake had.

If we have learned one thing from this beef it is that Kendrick is equal parts strategic and petty. He left no stone unturned when it came to continuing to jab at Drake through subliminal and direct messaging. We have outlined all the examples we could find below.

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (3)

via pgLang/YouTube

By:Miki Hellerbach

Since Kendrick Lamar dropped “Not Like Us” on May 4th, and added a proverbial nail to the coffin, Kendrick Lamar has not let up one bit. His Juneteenth Inglewood extravaganza, Ken & Friends: The Pop Out, had the West Coast united in dance-move-riddled braggadocio, stunting on a common enemy. The reverberating impression it left has carried to the video, mostly shot in Compton and fittingly released on the 4th of July. Drake hasn’t had a single US holiday arrive without being met with hate.

The music video features, however, much more than just glee-filled dancing on Drake’s rap grave. Lamar, and co-director Dave Free, layered the visual with easter eggs ripe for fan interpretation. Most of the Easter eggs feel like direct responses to disses Drake had.

If we have learned one thing from this beef it is that Kendrick is equal parts strategic and petty. He left no stone unturned when it came to continuing to jab at Drake through subliminal and direct messaging. We have outlined all the examples we could find below.

Kendrick dropped and gave him 50

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (4)

via pgLang/YouTube

Just in time for his line, “Say Drake, I hear you like ‘em young/ You better not ever go to cell block one,” Kendrick appears in a staged setup that mimics a prison cell. He immediately begins doing pushups on cinder blocks to poke fun at “Push Ups,” Drake’s initial response to “Like That.” On that record, the hook memorably commanded Lamar to “drop and give me 50,” poking fun at a video the Compton rapper posted on his Finsta IG page, where he was doing pushups at a public park gym.

Kendrick mimicks Drake’s TikTok dance

Nah Kendrick funny af 😭 pic.twitter.com/WdW0LxInOx

— la negra tiene tumbao (@colormesilva_) July 5, 2024

Twitter: @colormesilva_

After the push-ups, we see Kendrick sitting on the fake prison cot rapping, “To any bitch that talk to him and they in love, just make sure you hide yo little sister from him.” @colormesilva_ on X pointed out that the dance Kendrick is doing with his hands mirrors one Drake did in a viral TikTok video seemingly with a fan’s little sister. It’s so specific and subtle it’s equal parts hard to believe and impossible to deny.

TDE signals strength

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (5)

via pgLang/YouTube

On “Push Ups,” Drake insinuated that the “50” Lamar needed to drop represented the percentage splits he had to give up when leaving TDE. Label founder Top Dawg, as well as the original slate of TDE members, including the rest of Black Hippy, appear in the video seemingly laughing at the claim that there is bad blood.

At the Pop Out: Ken & Friends show, Kendrick also brought out his fellow Black Hippy members to display a continued expression of brotherhood. It would appear that even as Kendrick has gone on to form his own entity separate from the label in pglang, he still maintains a healthy relationship with all of those he rose to prominence with. Drake’s vitriol could not spur any added tension.

All of the owl references

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (6)

via pgLang/YouTube

Drake’s label OVO has always used an owl as their logo. There is no visual element used more disrespectfully in the “Not Like Us” video than the winged creature. First, during the now infamous “wop wop wop wop wop” section of the song, Kendrick strikes an owl piñata on each “wop.” That section fittingly has a caption reading “DISCLAIMER NO OVHOES WERE HARMED DURING THE MAKING OF THIS VIDEO.” Then, at the end of the video, we see Kendrick staring at a real owl before putting it in a cage. The owl goes from being a representation of the label as a piñata to an embodiment of Drake himself as a living animal. It is also easy to think of the phrase involving a caged bird when witnessing the closing imagery, as all Drake can do now is sing.

DeMar DeRozan comes home

via pgLang/YouTube

“I’m glad Deroz came home y’all didn’t deserve him neither,” is rapped by Lamar in unison with a camera zooming in on NBA star DeMar DeRozan. The fellow Compton native started his career playing for Drake’s hometown Toronto Raptors before being traded right before they won a championship in 2019. Drake seemingly had a personal relationship with Demar during that time. He even appeared in a goofy State Farm commercial with him and wished him well upon his departure posting, “To my brother @demar_derozan I want to say 10 million thank you’s on behalf of YOUR city. You are a fixture in Toronto forever…Thank you for being an incredible captain and an even better friend.” DeRozan, who was also seen dancing during the Pop Out, seems to have left Drake fully in the dust and chosen the side of his actual hometown musical hero.

Kendrick proves “Family Matters”

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (8)

via pgLang/YouTube

During the bar, “The family matter and the truth of the matter it was god’s plan to show y’all the liar,” Lamar appears on the screen with his partner Whitney Alford and their two children. Drake created an entire set of conspiracy theories about Kendrick and his family on his diss track “Family Matters.” He claimed that Kendrick had a toxic relationship with his childhood sweetheart; had moved to New York to get away from the rest of his family; that his son was actually fathered by his business partner and friend Dave Free; and that he was physically abusive to Whitney.

The first image of the family shows just how much Kendrick’s son Enoch looks like his actual father. Then, as the song continues to play, Kendrick and Whitney dance in pure joy to the beat as the kids run around playing. This seems to pretty clearly be an attempt to dispel all the other claims. But if that wasn’t enough, Whitney also appears to be wearing a wife-beater tank top. This may be a bit of a stretch but given her dancing to Drake’s demise she may be just as petty as her partner.

Dave Free appears

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (9)

via pgLang/YouTube

Not only did Dave Free direct the video with Kendrick (he is officially credited on a title card at the end of the video) but he also appears with Kendrick during the second verse as they dap, laugh, and dance. No one knows where Drake got the info he was willing to run with about Free allegedly knocking up Kendrick’s partner, but at this point, it seems like a complete fabrication.

Mustard’s Blue Jays hat

Instagram: @mustard

Mustard appears in the video riding around with Kendrick in a luxury vehicle and pulling up with him to eat at Tam’s, a local Compton dive. For the duration of his appearance, he is wearing a Toronto Blue Jays fitted baseball cap, as a subtle but very funny troll towards Drake.

Mustard has denied that this was a troll, saying he had a lot of different hats with him. He just decided to wear this one. Hmmm.

A 4th of July surprise

Instagram: @davefree

After the Pop Out happened on Juneteenth—which felt like a continued critique of Drake’s blackness—the release of the video dropping on America’s Independence Day also feels quite targeted. Many referred to Kendrick’s scheduling move as both a jab at Drake being mixed race as well as an attempt to emphasize his colonizer ethos.

The 4th is a tricky holiday for many as it celebrates the anniversary of independence for solely white people in America who colonized the land from Native Americans. Maybe Kendrick wanted to highlight how Drake was a colonizer or maybe he just wanted to drop it on a day where people would be at kickbacks with large groups. You never know with this guy.

Skipping on sidewalk chalk hopscotch

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (12)

via pgLang/YouTube

Perhaps the most piercing pedophile bar on “Not Like Us” remains, “Tryna strike a chord and it’s probably A-Minorrrrrrr.” As it plays during the video we see Kendrick dancing on a sidewalk chalk hopscotch grid. There was no way he wasn’t gonna drive that point home, right? This is as diabolical and funny as Kendrick could get.

Kendrick waving at the camera

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (13)

via pgLang/YouTube

On “Euphoria” Kendrick rapped, “Keep makin' me dance, wavin' my hand and it won't be no threat.” Towards the end of the “Not Like Us” video when he waves and smiles at the camera for a second it seems like he might be referencing that bar as if to say, “let’s just go back again to that now and we are all good.” He also may just be waving goodbye to Drake as he is now finished with him.

The shipping crates

Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (14)

via pgLang/YouTube

A large portion of the second verse features shots of Kendrick and others surrounded by large shipping containers. As Drake himself even referred to Kendrick’s attacks towards him as taking the “Epstein angle,” the sex trafficking correlation seems clear in this imagery. There has even been some correlation to the docks in Season 2 of the HBO Show The Wire, where the character Sam Choksey (a Turkish crewman) was trafficking women through shipping containers.

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Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video (2024)
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