Kendrick Lamar cut Mother’s Day a few hours short for rap fans when he stole the show by returning Sunday evening (May 8) with the fifth installment of his decorated “The Heart” series.
A video for “Part 5” arrived as well and it’s co-directed by PgLang’s Dave Free alongside the Compton native. Kendrick rhymes over a stripped-down Marvin Gaye “I Want You” sample in front of a red screen sporting an afro and black bandana.
The Heart Part 5 https://t.co/DlnQO2g5nw
— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) May 9, 2022
Using deepfake technology, Lamar takes on the face of celebrities like Kanye West, Kobe Bryant, O.J. Simpson and Jussie Smollett, and also poetically raps from the perspective of the late Nipsey Hussle.
“The Heart” series has been a staple of Kendrick’s discography and serves as a timestamp coinciding with the release of just about every album in his Hall-of-Fame career, with the first coming in April 2010.
Billboard dives in and ranks each installment of K. Dot’s “The Heart” series below.
5. “The Heart Part 1” (April 2010)
Released several months prior to his Overly Dedicated mixtape in April 2010, K. Dot waxed poetic about his grand career aspirations over samples of Mos Def’s “UMI Says” and Bilal’s “Sometimes.” While he was still a relative unknown to the industry’s mainstream in those days, his confidence certainly wasn’t lacking when name-dropping some of the greats.
The low-budget clip was shot in the form of VLOG following Kenny around local shows and shops with his Black Hippy crew. Looking back over a decade, it’s funny to find Kendrick calling out J. Cole over being late to their XXL Freshman photo shoot, knowing how their careers are now compared ad nauseum, but he still made sure to give Cole his props as an emcee when introducing himself.
“My n—a was on his hustle I introduced him my name/ Said I’ll see him on the bubble in the future, my dude I salute ya/ Contributing the real s–t,” he raps. It’s tough to compare “Part 1” to the rest of its series competitors, but the inaugural edition must sit toward the bottom.
4. “The Heart Part IV” (March 2017)
By this point in his career, Kendrick clearly understood his place in rap’s hierarchy and made sure not to waste a breath with any rhyme. He was so confident in himself that he repeatedly calls himself the greatest on the track, and knows he could ghost the industry for years to come and leave his legacy still cemented.
“The Heart Part IV” arrived as a pre-cursor to his DAMN. album that came out in April 2017, and it’s now been five years in between series installments at this point. Dot calls out President Donald Trump and exposes America’s ugly truths over beats that would eventually be heard on his next project, but as far as the impact when compared to its series counterparts, “Part IV” doesn’t quite measure up.
3. “The Heart Pt. 2” (September 2010)
To think how many Kendrick Lamar fans were born when pressing play on Overly Dedicated in September 2010,, and the first track they fittingly heard was project opener “The Heart Pt. 2…”
For the second series installment, K. Dot carves up a looped The Roots sample with precision while getting brutally honest about his humble beginnings in the unforgiving environment of Compton. “We used to beefing over turf, f–k beefing over a verse/ N—-s dying, motherf–k a double entendre/ And this is Comp-ton, lions in the land of the triumph,” he raps.
“Pt. 2” definitely holds sentimental value to a large contingent of K. Dot fans, but even over a decade later, the poignant bars stand the test of time.
2. “The Heart Part 5” (May 2022)
Five years have gone by since Kendrick Lamar’s last album, and his welcomed return came on May 8 with “The Heart Part 5.” In many ways, it’s like he never left: His pen is still razor-sharp and he fills a void in the industry that can’t be replaced by any pretender to the throne. Like the Undertaker in WWE, even when K. Dot’s not releasing music, his presence can be felt.
“Part 5” sees the 34-year-old shredding a Marvin Gaye sample, while morphing into polarizing (or outright infamous) Black celebrities like Kanye West, O.J. Simpson, Jussie Smollett and Will Smith in the track’s video. In closing, Kendrick delivers hip-hop’s most powerful moment of 2022 when addressing the loss of Crenshaw’s finest, Nipsey Hussle, in a way only he could — by rapping through Nip’s perspective from heaven while chillingly addressing his family, fans, murderer, and more.
1. “The Heart Pt. 3” (October 2012)
Hip-hop definitely didn’t die on that October 22, 2012 day when Kendrick unleashed one of the best albums of the 2010s with official LP debut good kid, m.A.A.d city. Days prior to his sophomore album’s landing, K. Dot cooked up “The Heart Pt. 3” in Las Vegas with his Top Dawg Entertainment brethren Ab-Soul and Jay Rock.
Kenny retraces his steps on the third installment in getting to that delicate point in his career, while lyrically sparring with his Black Hippy partners. Showing off his vivid storytelling prowess, K. Dot opens up about the pressures of being the next Tupac, while revealing his biggest fear is not ever feeling fully accomplished.
What wasn’t crystal clear at the time? K. Dot was on the precipice of a mainstream explosion, which combined with critical acclaim to create a reputation and standard that only a handful of rappers have been able to successfully maintain. Also titled “Will You Let It Die,” Kendrick displays many of the factors that contributed to his greatness then as today, in a time period that fueled his ascension.