“The Heart Part 5” by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar begins “The Heart Part 5” by showing love to ‘all his beautiful fans and everyone who ever gave him a listen’, even those who may not particularly agree with what he spits.
And this track does feature some hard spittin’, whereas attentiveness is key to capturing all that Kendrick is saying.
But as far as the first verse goes, what the vocalist is speaking to is actually a pretty-common topic in the world of rap music, particularly amongst woke artists like Lamar. And that, most simply put, the risk of growing up as a Blackman in the ‘hood. Kendirck, having come from such a background, knows that such is an environment where murder and incarceration are common. That is fundamentally what he is putting forth in this verse.
Honestly the second verse, which is about twice as long as the first, is a bit more difficult to comprehensively understand. But it seems that the subject of this section is two-fold. One would be Lamar once again harping on, in a manner of speaking, the perils of Black culture. The second would be the rapper alluding to himself as a spokesman of his people, someone who wants to “represent” them and presumably, in the process, improve their lot.
Noteworthy to point out is that during that particular segment of the verse, he also appears to give an indirect shoutout to the late Nipsey Hussle. Hussle’s presence is also felt in the third verse, in addition to his image being heavily utilized in the music video to “The Heart Part 5”.
The third verse, which itself appears to be twice as long as the second, then finds Lamar, at least initially, rather focusing on himself. What he seems to be saying is that he knows what it’s like to be a rich and influential celebrity. But now he wants to take things to the next level, one where he’s even prepared to ‘sacrifice his personal gain’ in the name of uplifting his people. And such a concept is also apparently what the title points to, as in Lamar now dedicating “more heart” – or let’s say an increased level of passion – to his endeavors.
After establishing the above, the vocalist then literally takes on a spiritual perspective, presumably speaking from the viewpoint of the deceased Hussle. But in the midst of doing so, it would seem that Kendrick is alluding to a higher idea. And that is living a life that is ‘pleasing’ to his “Creator”.
Or viewed from a different angle, since Lamar channels Nipsey from a first-person perspective, it’s almost as if the vocalist is prophesying his own death. And what he is saying in that regard is that he doesn’t want to leave Earth with any regrets, particularly in terms of fulfilling what he deems as his divine mission.
What “The Heart Part 5” is all about
So putting all of this together, well, we know that Kendrick has been the most-successful conscious rapper in history. He has all of the money and fame which a n**ga from the ‘hood could ask for but has still retained a palpable level of commitment to his people. In that sense, it seems that now he’s on the verge of taking that calling to another level, beyond his dedication to it in the past.
The Music Video of “The Heart Part 5”
As of the release of this track, Kendrick is on the verge of permanently parting ways with Top Dawg Records, the label that has been most instrumental in establishing him as a music superstar. With this announcement has also come speculation that he is taking on a new alter ego dubbed “Oklama”. Furthermore, said persona is characterized by something like a new spiritual outlook on the part of Lamar. So presumably, this is Kendrick’s first music video (and thus song) as “Oklama” (as implied at the beginning of the clip).
And perhaps the first thing noticeable about him in the visual is that Kendrick looks thinner. Indeed, one analyst has put forth that “Oklama” is akin to the rapper’s Rasta side taking over, with said analyst using Bob Marley, who was also quite lean, as a reference point. And truthfully, whereas Lamar is known for not particularly conforming to mainstream beauty norms, in this video he looks more earthy than ever.
But of course, he doesn’t proceed to chant but rather raps. And the video, fundamentally speaking, is very, very basic, featuring the vocalist, with nothing below his chest showing, spittin’ in a very-animated fashion, rocking’ with a white T-shirt and black-and-white bandana tied around his neck, against a gradiated red background. To note, Kendrick also busts a couple of funky dance moves during the chorus.
Video gets even more Interesting!
No one appears on the screen with him, and no special effects are utilized whatsoever until the beginning of the second verse. That’s when the rapper’s face, semi-dreaded hair and all, transforms into that of O.J. Simpson. And with Lamar being one of the most-renowned rappers in history, we’re talking about top-notch deep fake technology here, as “O.J.” appears to fully rap in K-Dot’s place.
Afterwards, the rapper’s face also morphs into that of a few other prominent Black men, successively being Kanye West, Jussie Smollett and Will Smith. And seeing “Will Smith” with dreads is really a sight!
Then after the second chorus comes an interlude where Lamar, as himself, bops around a bit. Later, some time into the third verse, his face changes into that of the late Kobe Bryant for a brief spell, which is perhaps the most unusual – for lack of a better word – part of the entire video. Then, after becoming Kendrick again, he transforms into another deceased celebrity, that being Nipsey Hussle. In fact he does twice after briefly (in between) turning back into himself.
It has been put forth by Variety that what those figures are meant to represent, collectively, is “other rappers and controversial or deceased Black men”. But more specifically, also taking the lyrics of the song into consideration, it seems that the mission of “Oklama” is akin to, as concluded earlier, speaking on behalf of his people, whom that diverse cast of known Black men collectively personify.
When was “The Heart Part 5” released?
Being released on 8 May 2022 would make “The Heart Part 5” Kendrick Lamar’s his first solo single since 2018’s “Black Panther”.
To note, Kendrick has dropped four successive “The Heart” songs. The most recent, “The Heart Part 4”, also came out as a standalone single, as with Part 5, though in 2017.
“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is the title of Kendrick Lamar’s fifth studio album. “The Heart Part 5” is part of said album.
Kendrick has been engaged in other endeavors during his semi-hiatus from the music scene. In 2020 he was only involved in one single, a Busta Rhymes joint called “Look Over Your Shoulder”. But that was also the same year that he founded PGLang, which is one of the labels behind this song (“The Heart Part 5”).
And the others are those who have backed Kendrick throughout most of his career – Interscope Records, Aftermath Entertainment and of course Top Dawg Records. Likewise, these are also the labels behind “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”.
The producer of this track is Beach Noise. The two musicians currently holding down that brand, Johnny Kosich and Matt Schaeffer, are individually acknowledged as co-writers of the track, penning it with Jake the Snake, Arthur Ross, Leon Ware and Kendrick Lamar.
Arthur “T-Boy” Ross (1949-1996) and Leon Ware (1940-2017) were a songwriting team that was active, together, during the 20th century. And the reason they’re listed as co-writers of this track is because “The Heart Part 5” samples a song they wrote titled “I Want You” (1976) by the equally-late Marvin Gaye (1939-1984).
Kendrick Lamar also co-directed this song’s music video with Dave Free, his PGLang co-founder.