It’s been four long years, but Kendrick Lamar has finally released a new song. “The Heart Part 5”, the first single from his upcoming album Mr Morale & the Big Steppers, is (obviously) the fifth in Lamar’s “The Heart” series.
In keeping with the other songs in the series, “The Heart Part 5” offers an insight into Lamar’s current headspace and also touches on his relationship to other artists and cultural figures. For example, “The Heart Part 2” sampled a monologue from late photographer Dashiell “Dash” Snow, while in “The Heart Part 3” he muses on the pressure of being seen as “Pac reincarnated”.
“Part 5” accordingly refers to a whole host of other musicians and public figures and samples Marvin Gaye's1976 track “I Want You”. But Lamar takes these references one step further in “Part 5”’s music video, where he uses deepfake technology to morph himself into OJ Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle.
The video begins with a quote attributed to ‘oklama’, Lamar’s new moniker – “I am. All of us” – before cutting to Lamar rapping in front of a red wall. Then things get a little weird. As Lamar raps about the aforementioned celebrities, he morphs into them – for example, he refers to a “bulletproof Rover” when he turns into Simpson, and bipolar disorder when he turns into West.
The video gives special thanks to “Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and DEEP VOODOO” – Deep Voodoo being the name of Stone and Parker’s deepfake studio. Lamar, Stone and Parker also announced in January that they are working together on a live-action comedy film.
It’s captivating and disturbing in equal measure. Some have called Lamar’s use of deepfake technology to ‘resurrect’ the dead “disrespectful” and questioned his decision to include an alleged murderer in the video, while others have memefied the deepfakes already. Many have also searched for the ‘meaning’ behind the video, although it’s unlikely there’s any one definitive answer.
The video has also mysteriously disappeared from YouTube in the past hour, with rumours circulating that Lamar has been hit with a lawsuit from one of the figures portrayed in the video and forced to take it down. It’s unclear which of the celebrities has hit back at Lamar – or even if any of them have – but some have pointed out that it’s certainly... interesting how Kanye’s music video for “Life of the Party”, which dropped around the same time as the “Part 5” video, looks pretty shit in comparison.