K-Dot is back with a new single after nearly four years of being gone from the rap scene.
Beneath Kendrick Lamar’s unexpected trove of classic samples and gold bars (pun intended), his music has always been one filled with truth and tenacity. Mass media may take it out of context, but his real fans know that the man has always been spitting facts. Like what he raps about on Mortal Man, he says, “when shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?” And after four long years of waiting, the Pulitzer prize awardee’s much-anticipated album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers will finally be dropping on May 13th, starting with his single The Heart Part 5, the fifth installation of his The Heart series.
In the song, Kendrick sampling the Marvin Gaye track I Want You is already a huge flex, knowing how expensive it is to pay for its rights. If you’ve been an avid hip-hop fan, you’ve probably heard of the controversy with Pharrell Williams and Robin Williams being fined $7 Million for using tidbits of a Marvin Gaye song in Blurred Lines back in 2015. So, for the Compton-raised rapper to use it for his comeback track must’ve cost him a pretty penny. Welp.
“I AM. ALL OF US”
Ahead of his album’s release, the music video utilized “deepfake” technology, a simulated medium that uses A.I. to replace someone’s likeness. Kendrick then transformed into controversial black men both the living and the dead: Kanye West, Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant, OJ Simpson, Jussie Smolett, and Will Smith all made appearances—well, sort of. If you watch closely, you’ll notice how the verses change as Kendrick morphs into each character, rapping about the tribulations surrounding them. (Peep the “friends bipolar” bar as he transformed into Kanye West, who’s been diagnosed with the disorder in the past.)
The very first verse alone already hits home. “I come from a generation of pain, where murder is minor.” If anything, there’s a lot to unpack in The Heart Part 5, even with its Motown, jazz vibe that makes you think that it’s about to be a feel-good song. There’s no shame in bearing the burden of a bruised heart, and even during the dark times, Kendrick takes pride. “Desensitized, I vandalized pain, covered up and camouflaged.” Don’t we all?
The 34 year-old rapper doesn’t tiptoe around the fact that thousands of hate crime victims and lives taken merely for their complexion and social status still exist up to this day, but Kendrick knows that he has to mask the wounds of the past all while fighting its flawed system.
Just like what he’s been saying since the very beginning, Kendrick Lamar is all of us. This is the very reason why the community has always embraced him. He doesn’t vow to change the world with his music, but he’s fulfilled his desire to at least make people think twice. Damn. Quite chilling to think about how a song released just a few days ago parallels the current situation in the Philippines, doesn’t it?
You can watch The Heart Part 5 below: