“Purple Hearts” by Kendrick Lamar, Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah

As illustrated most pointedly by the chorus of “Purple Hearts” and Ghostface’s verse, this is intended to be a love song as relayed, so to speak, on the behalf of the Most High. That is to say that Kendrick and co., as idealized, are espousing the all-important notion of loving your fellow man, as well as, it can be said to a lesser extent, loving yourself.

Summer Walker

And if such is in fact the intent then, with the exception of Summer Walker’s verse really, this song does an admirable job of sticking to said topic. Summer is a bit more black-hearted due to past experiences with a certain romantic interest as well as people in general. Concerning the former, i.e. her “baby daddy” who continues to sweat her even though they’ve broken up, that would presumably be a reference to London on da Track, with him and Walker indeed having a baby together and recently going their separate ways

And in terms of her perception of people in general, it can be taken in that regard that the songstress is speaking primarily to romantic interests. But anyway, it seems she has been turned off by those who try to get to close to her because she’s making it, which would presumably be most of the people she has come in contact with since becoming a celebrity.

Kendrick Lamar and Ghostface Killah

Meanwhile in his verse, Kendrick goes about illustrating, similarly to the “Savior“, that even though he may have a righteous, peaceful disposition, he possesses an affinity for worldly things also. And of course Ghostface Killah is the elder statesman of the group. And you know how people get, shall we say more verbally religious as they age? Well the Wu-Tang Clan have always had a religious slant to them, with the days of 36 Chambers coming to mind when, early on, Ghost gets to mentioning “Elohim” and all. But in reality, his verse is very much focused on giving a shoutout to God and encouraging us to love one another in a way that He would see fit.

Going back to the chorus, what Kendrick is doing is acknowledging, in a roundabout way, the reality that mainstream hip-hop fans aren’t really interested in songs like these, i.e. ones which espouse love. They have a preferences to hear “the drugs talking”, i.e. rappers spittin’ about getting high and other such shallow matters. But in this case, being an A list rapper himself, Kendrick is forcing them, if you will, to “hear love talking” instead.

Lyrics to Kendrick Lamar's "Purple Hearts"

What’s the Meaning of “Purple Heart” as used in the Song?

Finally concerning the title, a “Purple Heart”, as you may already know, is a Presidential honor that is bestowed on US military personnel, more specifically such individuals who were wounded or even killed while serving. 

The title is not mentioned in the lyrics, and honestly, it’s not abundantly clear how it would fit into what’s being put forth. But perhaps what the vocalists are implying is an idea like they themselves – and by extension others also – being akin to veterans, not in the sense of having fought in a physical war but rather in terms of navigating through this world we live in – a task which in and of itself can prove emotionally taxing.

Purple Hearts

Is “Purple Hearts” Kendrick’s first Collabo with Summer Walker?

This track marks Lamar’s first collaboration with either Summer Walker or Ghostface Killah. The former is a singer from Atlanta who is one of the hottest names in R&B as of the onset of the 2020s. The latter is a rapper from New York City who actually got his start back in the 1990s. He is best known for being one of the core members of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan.

Credits

All three of the vocalists are credited with writing “Purple Hearts” alongside about half a dozen other songwriters. These names include:

  • Sam Dew
  • Jake The Snake
  • Westside Boogie
  • Johnny Kosich
  • Matthew Schaeffer
  • DJ Khalil
  • J.LBS. 

And it is also J.LBS, Khalil, Schaeffer & Kosich (aka Beach Noise) who produced the track with Sounwave.

When was “Purple Hearts” released?

“Purple Hearts” is the last song found on the “Big Steppers” half of “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers”, K-Dot’s album which hit store shelves on 13 May 2022. 

The publication of this track was backed by Kendrick’s new label pgLang, his old label Top Dawg Entertainment and industry mainstays/partners Interscope Records and Aftermath Entertainment.

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