After a private viewing of the track accompanying short film — starring Kendrick and actress Taylor Paige — on Tuesday (November 22), the Compton rapper sat down with longtime collaborator Dave Free and actress Tessa Thompson to discuss the making of the song and visuals.
K. Dot revealed that “We Cry Together” was not created with the intention of putting it on the album or making it into a song at all. Instead, the initial focus was on the writing and on turning that scene into a short film.
“The crazy thing about this joint is that it started with the movie first, and the music — putting it on the album itself — came after,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “The idea was always to capture this lyric, not any song, [but] the writing and the film and the texture and the cinematography of it to bring out the full experience.”
He continued: “I always trusted Dave, and vice versa, to trust all of our ideas as a collective. And I think the energy that we bring and the foundation that we put forward brought us individuals like Taylor [Paige] and Jake [Schreier] to come and say, ‘OK, this is a collective I want to be a part of and not be blocked by what people perceive as OK.’
The tone of “We Cry Together” was inspired by Hype Williams’ Belly and scenes from Quentin Tarantino movies, while the intention behind the video was to address topics that “we as a society kind of shy away from,” according to Dave Free.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing is [we wanted to show] people that we can actually identify with, not just from our culture, but from cultures all over the world,” Kendrick Lamar added. “I think we all have individuals out there who feel like they can’t find a deal — whether it’s their environment or whether it’s their psyche that places them in that environment.
“So the environment played a huge role, that’s something we definitely wanted to bring to life with the script. That was just as important as the people actually spewing the insults.”
The track itself was produced by The Alchemist and samples Florence + The Machine’s 2018 song “June.” Kendrick Lamar broke down how the lyrics, which played out as a heated argument between two lovers, were a reflection of global disharmony over the past half-decade .
“The main trigger for writing the dialogue was basically the state of the world in the last five years for me and seeing my frustrations with how no one, and none of our cultures or belief systems, can ever come to an agreement,” he explained . “So in writing I say, ‘OK, how can I make it feel personal, but also hold up a mirror as a collective concept, rather than just a personal concept?’
He added: “I wanted to do it with all the emotions involved… I wanted to bring that drama because at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, the good, the bad and the ugly, the pros and cons, it is what makes everything evolve. Being able to put it in our face allows us to accept it in order for us to evolve as humanity.”