Kendrick Lamar Drops “The Heart Part 5” Ahead of New Album

Mack Mendenhall

Get ready, Kendrick fans… it’s album release week. Finally.

Back in 2017, Kendrick Lamar dropped his fourth studio album DAMN., and in 2018 he wrote, performed, and produced for Black Panther: The Album. Both albums topped the Billboard 200, won Grammy Awards, and received widespread commercial and critical success. Lamar even received a Pulitzer Prize for his work on DAMN., making it the first non-jazz or classical composition to win the prestigious honor.

After a successful first decade in the music industry, in which Lamar proved himself to be one of the most prolific, innovative rappers in the game, fans have eagerly awaited his next release for the past four years. Lamar is notoriously tight-lipped on social media. But April 18 saw his first post on Instagram of 2022. The internet exploded over the news that a new album, titled Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, is set to be released on May 13.

Ahead of the album’s release, Kendrick Lamar dropped a new single, “The Heart Part 5,” on May 9. It’s the fifth installment in his series of songs titled “The Heart” beginning with the first in 2010. An accompanying music video featuring Lamar rapping in front of a red backdrop was released along with the single. In the video, the rapper morphs into various significant Black celebrities – O.J. Simpson, Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant, and Kanye West, to name a few – using deepfake technology pioneered by Deep Voodoo, a company founded by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

“The Heart Part 5” samples the drumline and string arrangements from Marvin Gaye’s 1976 hit “I Want You,” as well as Gaye’s vocals on the chorus. Lyrically, the song discusses in detail many of the aspects and struggles of life for Black Americans. “I come from a generation of pain, where murder is minor,” Lamar begins. He recalls growing up in the inner city and witnessing gang violence from a young age: “Desensitized, I vandalized pain, covered up and camouflaged / Get used to hearing arsenal rain.”

Lamar often addresses racism and injustices prevalent in America through his music, and he does so in “The Heart Part 5” as well. “Enemies shook my hand, I can promise I’ll meet you / In the land where no equal is your equal … In the land where hurt people hurt more people / F*** callin’ it culture,” he raps in the second verse. Evidently, Lamar is calling out the inequality and violence he sees and questioning what we as a nation are willing to accept as normal and “just part of the culture.” On the chorus, he declares “I want the hood to want me back” as Marvin Gaye’s voice sings “I want you to want me too” from the original sample. The final verse features Lamar rapping from the perspective of the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, which correlates with the portion of the music video in which Lamar transforms into Hussle’s likeness.

Kendrick Lamar’s fifth studio album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, will be released May 13.

Check out the music video below for “The Heart Part 5” below.