Kendrick Lamar is back. After four years without releasing a new single and five years since he released his acclaimed album DAMN .., which earned him the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize, the Compton, California native premiered a video in which it uses deepfake technology to tell, from the perspective of iconic black American men, how the culture of Black America enters into the lives of African Americans themselves, recycling injustices and social structures designed to oppress them.
Lamar’s single is the fifth installment of his “The Heart” saga, which began in 2010, and which usually precedes the release of his next full-length, although this song rarely aligns with the musical and lyrical proposal of the album that it contains. announces.
In “The Heart Part 5″, the 34-year-old rapper does not abandon his line of difficult questions, which aim to expose the contradictions of the so-called “black culture” in the United States, arguing how generations of institutionalized racism have affected the country’s Afro communities.
“In the land where hurt people hurt more people / Fuck calling it culture” (“In the land where hurt people hurt more people / Fuck calling it culture”), raps Kendrick with a visceral honesty that brings to the table not only the normalization of violence by the state but among African-Americans themselves.
Kendrick opens his heart and asks to rethink the way in which “Black America” is spoken and thought, satirizing its complexities, social problems and circumstances.
“Somebody called, said your lil’ nephew was shot down, the culture’s involved” (“Someone called, said your little nephew was shot down, culture is involved”), criticizes scathingly and sarcastically on another line.
For the second verse, the song’s accompanying video, which shows a Kendrick Lamar in a white T-shirt and black neckerchief rapping in front of a red background, begins to deepfake the Compton rapper into celebrities. black men who have been criticized for their actions, in a controversial bet but that highlights the empathy that the artist exudes in each of his rhymes. For something, a quote: “Yo soy. All of us” (“I am. All of us”); the video starts.
The first transformation is into OJ Simpson, the infamous American Football star who was accused of murdering his family in a controversial and iconic case that still divides American society.
“I said I’d do this for my culture. To let y’all know what a nigga look like in a bulletproof Rover” (“I said I would do this for my culture. So everyone knows what a black man looks like in a bulletproof Rover.”) Kendrik says with the Simpson face.
Then, in a verse where he talks about bipolar disorder, mutates again and takes on the face of fellow rapper Kanye West. And at another time he adopts the face of Will Smith to refer to what happened at the Oscars ceremony where the actor slapped comedian Chris Rock, repeating the phrase “Look what I did for you” (“Look what I did for you”).
Throughout the video clip, Lamar also exchanges his face with that of the actor. Jussie Smollett, sentenced to prison for fabricating an alleged homophobic attack, to the late Lakers star, Kobe Bryant, who starred in a scandal of alleged sexual abuse of a minor in life, and Nipsey Hussle, a rapper from Los Angeles shot dead in 2019.
There is an emphasis on the latter. Lamar refers to the pain caused by his death at the beginning of the track, with a line that says: “Sam, I’ll be watching over you” (Sam, I’ll be watching over you”), which seems to allude to Hussle’s older brother.
In the final verse, Kendrick adopts the late Hussle’s perspective, stating that he is in heaven, forgiving his killer, and speaking with satisfaction about what he accomplished when he was alive. The artistic decision, which some could classify as emotionally manipulative or unethical, is based on the respect and admiration that the Compton rapper has expressed for his deceased colleague in the past. Furthermore, the verse feels true to the speech of a rapper who has dedicated himself to bettering his community through regeneration projects and business opportunities.
“You can’t help the world until you help yourself” (“You can’t help the world until you help yourself”), says Lamar as Hussle, a phrase that corresponds completely with the creed of the artist himself.
Ultimately, this new single by Kendrick Lamar is one more step that consolidates the rapper in his legendary status, which he shares with historical exponents of the genre. With him, Kendrick not only continues to build his “Heart” series, and adds new elements to a narrative of resilience, responsibility and resistance, with which he has made an impact within “black culture”, which he praises and criticizes so much in time, but that prepares the way for this Friday to arrive Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, their long-awaited fifth studio album.