Still from “family ties” music video; Directed by Dave Free

Our Thoughts On:
Baby Keem, Kendrick Lamar-”family ties”


By TAYLor STOUT & the music team


It’s 2021 and our world’s been through the wringer. Our lives feel separate from the ones we had a couple of years ago. For better and for worse, it’s a new chapter. How do we move forward from here?

Kendrick Lamar’s answer: take no prisoners.

The renowned rapper is back after a notable silence, and he’s teamed up with his younger cousin Baby Keem on the triumphant, rapid-fire track “family ties.”

“family ties” ushers in a new era. The single was released on August 27, 2021, alongside a music video directed by Dave Free and featuring Baby Keem, Kendrick Lamar, and a cameo by Normani. It arrived in advance of Baby Keem’s latest album The Melodic Blue, and shortly after Kendrick Lamar announced via mysterious website that his next studio album—his first since 2017’s DAMN., and his final with the label TDE—is in the works.

On, Lamar wrote, “There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown.” As we lean into this new and unfamiliar world, we can only hope he’s right.

Below, the music team shares our thoughts on “family ties” and its music video.

Everyone who knows me knows I’ve been a Kendrick obsessive for a long time. It’s been so long since we’ve gotten anything new from K-dot. Sure, last year he had a verse on the Busta Rhymes album, but the consensus was that it was recorded years ago. I’ve been waiting to hear that one-of-a-kind voice and more importantly the content of verse following a time of such deep change. For me, he delivers here from “ducking the overnight activists” to being “amazing brother.” Sorry Baby Keem you were great and it’s your song but just because Kendrick is your cousin doesn’t mean he didn’t outshine you like he does with any of his features. Dave Free has another magical video as well with stunning picture-in-picture and a new Kenny dance (also nice to see Normani in the small cameo). I’m excited to see what’s next as Keem  releases the full album and Kendrick drops his last album on TDE soon. And to the disappointing releases this year, not naming any names but… “Fuck that album, fuck that single, BURN THAT HARD DRIVE.”

An awesome take on the film-inspired music video; moments of chaos punctuated by striking, clean visuals. The way Baby Keem and Kendrick riff off each other feels instinctive; natural. It’s fresh, cinematic, and very, very cool.

It’s great to have Kendrick back, and he’s determined, powerful, and specific about his demeanor. He shares space with his cousin, Baby Keem, who switches between flows and settings organically. But Kendrick knows we’re all waiting for what energy he’s bringing after all this time, and it reminds me of a trending TikTok I saw recently: “I became very nonchalant, but that’s what y’all wanted right?/Now I really don’t give a fuck.”

The collage of scenes that builds during Baby Keem’s verse is mesmerizing. It presents fractured vignettes that flow into one unifying rhythm. All this fragmentation feels grounded by the video’s closing shot: a close-up of Kendrick’s eyes. It’s a beat of intimacy to end a vast and fluid track. As a Gemini, I have to mention the line, “Kanye changed his life, but me, I’m still an old-school Gemini.” Kendrick has always represented the best of an inimitable star sign. I missed him.