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Kendrick Lamar Premiered the "King Kunta" Video in Times Square, and This Is What People Thought of It

"Kendrick Lamar, he's aight. Miley Cyrus is pretty cool, too. She's my bae."
2.4.15

Photos by the author

Kendrick Lamar's new album, To Pimp a Butterfly has been out for two weeks now, finally giving it enough time to sink into people's minds. Now, if you're the kind of person who reads Noisey regularly and lurks music websites, you know the critics love it. But at the end of the day, Kendrick Lamar doesn't do it for the cool, hot, and extremely buff critics who toil for hours thinking about music. Nah, Kendrick does it for the people! The world! And because he would like to get the whole world talking, he premiered his new video for "King Kunta" on a giant electronic Beats Music billboard in New York's Times Square, the Center of the Universe.

Annoncering

The video itself was a tiny blip that took up a fraction of the screen, and there was no sound for people to hear, but the people who stuck around knew that it was K. Dot (and his publicity team) giving all of us New Yorkers the gift of checking it out early. The people who did get to see it were stoked on it, and the people who were trying to shimmy their way to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. were also, at least in some cases, really excited about it. To take the voice of criticism out of writers' hands and hand it to the people, I asked the Times Square bystanders what they thought of Kendrick, the video, and everything else.

LAUREN ROGERS

Noisey: How long have you been listening to Kendrick?
Lauren: I was late to the Kendrick party, to be really honest with you. My friend had started playing "Cartoons and Cereal," and I was like "yo who is this guy?" This had to be, I want to say a year and a half ago. I am kinda late, and then I started kind of backwards. So I started going from his mixtapes, and then I got to the new album.

What do you think about the new album?
I love it. It's dope.

For sure. What did you think about the video?
I really wish there had been sound, but nonetheless I'm going to blast it later. But the video's awesome, it's taking it back to his roots. Original, not giving an F, like "I'm the king, this is what I do, I'm Kendrick Lamar." Without it being too hip-hop.

Do you think he's the king of New York?
Do I think he's the king of New York? What kind of question is that!? You can't do that to me! King of New York, I have to say Jay is the king of New York, he runs this place. I love Kendrick though, love him, don't know if he can be the king of New York, that's a bold statement.

Annoncering

How do you feel about Tidal?
Tidal seems awesome as far as it's what the artist wants and how they want to express themselves and want the rollouts to go for their actual music. But that cost is killer. Like I have a couple bills, but like that's an additonal cost, do I really need to pay for my streaming service? It sounds dope, though.

ARI (left) and RANDALL (right)

Noisey: How long have you been listening to Kendrick?
Ari: Since at least 2009? 2010?
Randall: Probably 2012, yeah.

How do you feel about the new record?
Randall: I think it's really great. There's a lot more styles, some clarinets, freestyle jazz. It's really mixing up the genre I think. It's poetry, too, it's not just rapping about the game or being rich, he's got good points to say. Also the story arc of suicidal tendencies, and the rise from that: It's like a personal look into his life.
Ari: That album reminds me of like, if Radiohead is rock, then Kendrick Lamar is rap. If In Rainbows was a rock album, To Pimp a Butterfly is a rap album.

Do you think Kendrick gets dumbass fans like Radiohead?
Ari: Yeah, for sure. There's a lot of people that listen to the song "m.A.A.d City," and they don't explore the true depth that he can be.

What did you think of the video?
Randall: I think we came too late for it. We walked under the billboard and didn't see it was right there.
Ari: We ran from our office to get here, and we've been Periscoping the whole time.

Annoncering

Oh man, so this is media within media. That's fucked up.
Randall: Mediaception right now.

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
I don't know him.

Did you like the new video?
What?

Do you listen to rap music?
No.

If you had to pick a rapper, who's your favorite?
I don't know any hip-hop artists.

What kind of music do you listen to?
Alternative, indie.

Early prediction for record of the year?
Beat the Champ, by The Mountain Goats.

Nice. What musician would make the prettiest woman?
Kanye West.

DILLON (left, in the bucket hat)

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
Kendrick is my favorite rapper.

Really?
Yeah.

Did you see the video that just went up for "King Kunta?"
I did not.

How do you feel about the new record?
To Pimp a Butterfly? Yeah. I like it so far, I haven't heard the whole thing yet.

What about the singles? You like any of those?
Yeah, I really liked "The Blacker The Berry." Listened to that almost the whole way here from Wisconsin.

How long you been listening to Kendrick?
Psh. Years.

Do you feel like he's influenced your life?
Somewhat.

What has he inspired you to do?
I don't know, different things I guess. Just everything I do, everything I do positively.

Which rapper would make the prettiest woman?
Prettiest woman? That's really tough… I dunno, they're all pretty ugly. Probably Big Sean.

MICKEY MOUSE

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
No English! Sorry!

What kind of music do you like?
Salsa! Salsa!

Annoncering

What musician would make the prettiest woman?
Prettiest woman? (makes motion of curvy woman) I don't know.

NAY GUNZ

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
Kendrick? He's aight. He can stay.

You listen to the new record?
Nah, didn't get a chance to listen to it.

Did you see the video that dropped over there?
Didn't get a chance to see that either.

Who do you listen to usually?
Usually down south rappers, Atlanta. Gucci, Future.

What do you think of Kendrick's old stuff, before all this hype?
I remember that song he had out that got all the controversy, he was speaking all that New York shit. It is what it is, it's a competition in this game, you gotta do what you gotta do to hold it down.

What rapper do you think would make the prettiest woman?
Man, I ain't answering that.

MADDY FAEAR

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
Kendrick Lamar, he's aight. Miley Cyrus is pretty cool, too. She's my bae.

What does Miley rap about that you dig?
She raps about love… love. She talks about love, sex, uh, marijuana, some other things. Relationships, How people change, and how she wants to be her own person. And sometimes Jesus, you know.

How do you feel about the Kendrick Lamar video that just came out on that big screen?
Did y'all like it? I liked it. I thought it was cool, I thought it was intense.

What rapper would make the prettiest woman?
LeCrae, to the top.

MATT (middle)

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
I like him.

Annoncering

You like his new album?
I haven't heard it yet.

What's your favorite song by him?
"I."

Did you see the new video over there?
No.

It was for "King Kunta." It was pretty cool.
Cool.

Who would win in a fight: Kendrick Lamar or Childish Gambino?
Kendrick.

QUE

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
He's tight. He's dope. I like him a lot.

Nice, did you listen to the new album?
Yeah, a bit.

How do you feel about it?
Uh, I like it. I mean it's different. I wouldn't listen to it again because it's not my thing.

What are you usually into?
I like the old Kendrick Lamar. I like stuff like that. I like the new J. Cole, I thought it'd be something like that, I like the new T.I. single. That funk and jazz stuff, I'm just not into.

Did you see the video?
Nah, I missed it.

Do you think he's trying to be the next 'Ye?
I think he's trying to be true to himself and be the best rapper, but it's just not there. Like he totally leaked that album himself.

What rapper would make the prettiest woman?
Prettiest woman? Holy shit. Gotta be T.I. Pretty little light skin thang.

JERRY (a.k.a. ZEKE, second from right)

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
He's a beast! (chaperone yells at him to get back to the group and he runs away) Just kidding!

ELLA

Noisey: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar?
I don't know who that is.

Where are you from?
Sweden.

What's popping in Sweden? What are people listening to out there?
Justin Bieber, One Direction.

Annoncering

How hard did Sweden take Zayn leaving One Direction?
Well, I'm a One Directioner, so…

Crushed?
Yeah. There's still Harry though.

Do you think Zayn would make a good rapper?
Yeah.

What about the new Jack U with Bieber on it?
What are you even saying?

FABIAN

Noisey: Real quick because you look like a busy man, how do you feel about Kendrick?
He's sick. I'm seeing him at Leeds this year.

How do you feel about the new album?
It's sick. Yeah, I enjoyed the whole thing.

What did you think of the video he just dropped?
Eh, no haven't seen it yet.

CLYDE

Noisey: All right, you look like you have a hot take on the new Kendrick video. What's good?

Did you see the video? Were you bummed at no sound?

How do you feel about Tidal?
Officer on horse: Can I help you?

Yeah. How do you feel about Tidal?
What?

How sick was that Sufjan sample though?
Please leave.

John Hill is Noisey's man on the street. Every street. Follow him on Twitter.