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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Kendrick Lamar returns with ‘The Heart Part 4,’ a challenge to hip-hop

You could argue that a Gemini has multiple personalities all in one hour. It makes for an exciting conversation on the brink of anticipation. Compton rapper, Kendrick Lamar, proves this as evident in “The Heart Part 4,” his latest single release since his untitled unmastered LP last March. Lamar reflects on his time away from the industry, the fulfillment that rappers have on the charts instead of in the studio and the brief meditation that his music will speak for itself.

The restless energy that we feel when we hold our tongue is enough to sacrifice our sanity. “The Heart Part 4” is an irking Lamar, shifting his mood from a calm state of meditative thought to an abrasive return at raw lyricism. Lamar reminds the hip-hop circle why his dominance is never determined by his position on the charts. With an uncontested wrath and an opening dialogue that closes itself with the industry’s biggest rappers, Lamar finds no challenge in establishing his position as an eclectic force against the likes of Big Sean, Drake, Donald Trump and even ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Trust is often a balance of the body; it is a scale on which we place many of our relationships or the factors that may cause them to end. Lamar pays his dues towards his own mistakes with a sample of James Brown’s 1974 song, “Don’t Tell A Lie About Me and I Won’t Tell the Truth on You.” He opens, “Don’t tell a lie on me / I won’t tell the truth ‘bout you.”

Karma is a lot like miracles. They do not work unless you do. With a prelude production featuring Syk Sense, Axl Folie, The Alchemist and DJ Dahi, Lamar animates the battle of genuine hip-hop, song production and songwriting. The rap world is dangerously petty; it’s a climb of dominance that strikes the ability at the mouth or the pen. Lamar’s blunt delivery is an alternate universe on its own. Retaliating from Big Sean’s own lyrical comments to Lamar’s fast rapping style, Lamar raps, “My fans can’t for me to son ya punk-ass / And crush ya whole lil’ shit / I’ll Big Pun ya punk-ass, you scared lil’ bitch.”

Drake is overly tiring. A chart rapper, the self-proclaimed top five belongs in Lamar’s corner as he states, “Yellin’ ‘One, two, three, four, five’ / I am the greatest rapper alive! / So damn great, motherfucker, I’ve died.” The beat swallows a heavy bass, a piano fills the minor keys and Lamar doesn’t forget the current U.S. president or his alleged ties with Russia. “Donald Trump is a chump / Know how we feel, punk? Tell’em that God comin’ / And Russia need a replay button, ya’ll up to somethin’.”

“The Heart Part 4” is outloud thinking. It is a contemplative life that Lamar has finally reflected on after realizing that the competition around him isn’t really a challenge worthy component. A rapper that cares a lot more of what material he puts into the music industry rather than how it is received by music critics or rappers alike, Lamar teases a fourth studio album towards the end of the song: “You know what time it is, ante up, this is in forever / Ya’ll got ‘til April the 7th to get ya’ll shit together.”

Kendrick Lamar masters the art of storytelling by separating the victors and the characters from an honest narrative. Perhaps it is Big Sean’s comment towards Lamar’s lyrically quick rapping or Drake’s inability to move forward as an artist and songwriter, instead to coin himself along the likes of Jay-Z. For Lamar, he battles his counterparts and most importantly himself as he raps, “My spot is solidified if you ask me (What else?) / My name is identified as ‘That King.’” Lamar returns in a deeper conversation with alternate versions of himself and forces us to quickly recognize which rappers are keeping hip-hop alive and which rappers are maintaining the lifestyle for the charts.

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