Kendrick Lamar returns to the rap game with a new single, “The Heart Part 5,” and an accompanying music video that deepfakes famous Black men.

The Heart Part 5 Cover art

Image Credit: Spotify

Kendrick Lamar’s long-anticipated return to music proves well worth the wait. The new music video for “The Heart Part 5” shows the rapper transforming into Kanye West, Will Smith, O.J. Simpson, Jussie Smollett, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle throughout the video. The audio-visual piece, directed by Dave Free and Lamar, captures Lamar’s complex and authentic storytelling.

The video begins with the message “I am. All of us,” attributed to Lamar’s latest alias, oklama. The passage suggests that Lamar sees himself in the men that he portrays. Right after, the video transitions into Lamar performing the track against a maroon-coloured backdrop. Lamar begins by thanking fans and remarking that he has realized that “life is perspective.” As Lamar raps, the video employs impressive deepfaking technology to morph the artist’s face into prominent male Black figures.

Connections Between Deepfakes and Lamar’s Lyrics

As Lamar morphs into each figure, the lyrics correlate with the figure he resembles. The first figure Lamar portrays is O.J. Simpson. Lamar raps about “Bulletproof rovers,” referencing the 1994 O.J. Simpson police chase. 

In the second verse, Lamar transforms into Kanye West and raps the lyrics, “Friends bipolar.” Kanye West has publicly disclosed his struggles with having bipolar disorder. Lamar also raps about how friends will “grab you by your pockets.” On Kanye West’s album The Life of Pablo, the track “Real Friends” discusses Kanye’s trust issues with friends and family.

Next, Lamar morphs into the controversial actor Jussie Smollett. The lyrics point to Smollett’s hate-crime conviction: “the streets got me f***ed up, y’all can miss me.” The following transition turns Lamar into Will Smith. Lamar raps, “In the land where hurt people hurt more people/F*** callin’ it culture.”  The line references the infamous incident in which the world witnessed Will Smith slap Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.

Kendrick Lamar Deepfakes as Famous Black Men

Image Credit: ET Canada

In the third verse, Lamar transforms into the late Kobe Bryant. Lamar offers lyrics that reflect upon the legacy of the basketball star’s life. He raps, “Paid dues, made rules, change outta love/ Them same views made schools change curriculums.”

Lastly, the final figure that Kendrick Lamar embodies is the esteemed late rapper, Nipsey Hussle. The verse is written from Hussle’s perspective in the afterlife: “To my brother, to my kids, I’m in Heaven.” During the deepfake, Lamar expresses that Hussle is at peace with what he accomplished during his life. For instance, Lamar raps, “I completed my mission, wasn’t ready to leave/But fulfilled my days, my Creator was pleased.” Hussle is known for his community-driven work, entrepreneurial spirit, and successful hip-hop career. 

Upcoming Album Release

On Friday May 13th, Kendrick Lamar is set to drop one of the most highly-anticipated rap albums of the year with Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. The album is a follow-up to Lamar’s Pulitzer-prize winning album, DAMN

Published by HOLR Magazine.