Music Reviews

Track Review: Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 4

K. Dot returns to perform lyrical feats unimaginable to many other MCs, to once again prove that he has earned the title of ‘King Kendrick Lamar’.

It’s been just under a week since Drake unmasked his long-awaited and hyped More Life after months of publicity and delays. After days of inner turmoil, I had somehow settled on a verdict of “it’s pretty good” and had it on repeat for lack of anything else in my recent discography that caught my attention.

Then I woke up this morning to the rare treat of a new Kendrick Lamar song, specifically his fourth entry into his ‘The Heart’ series of tracks (the second of which is one of my favourite Kendrick Lamar songs of all time). Suddenly, Drake’s Jamaican-wannabe blend of grime and trap lost all my attention.

“On the second half of the track K. Dot adopts a more aggressive flow than previously and proceeds to fire all cylinders”

And the reason I’m mentioning Drake in this review of a Kendrick track so much is not only because their releases nearly coincide in date, but because some have speculated Drake is actually directly being antagonized by Kendrick in Pt.4. On the second half of the track K. Dot adopts a more aggressive flow than previously and proceeds to fire all cylinders, as we all know he is so capable of doing, against an unnamed foe he that he threatens to “crush your whole lil’ shit” and “Big Pun ya punk ass”.

The suspicion comes after Kendrick states this foe is “tiptoeing around my name” to then pretend like nothing happened. Drake’s subliminal sparrings against Kendrick after Control are well known, and the vicinity in release date of the two projects stokes the fires of this rumor. Another notable suspect is Big Sean who earlier this year said he doesn’t believe Kendrick outrapped him in Control (that is a high level of disillusionment Mr. Sean) and referenced him quite directly in the song ‘No More Interviews’.

After these subliminal attacks, Kendrick goes on to rightfully brag about his successes, claiming as he has time and time again that he is “the best rapper alive” and “The five foot giant”. In between all the bragadocious, he also manages to insert some clever lines about his opinions on current politics, saying “Donald Trump is a chump” and that “Russia need a replay button”.

Instrumentally, this track is as sharp and varied as the lyrics. From the moment we hear the James Brown song title “Don’t tell a lie about me and I won’t tell the truth on you” reworked into the hook, the soothing choral ‘oohh’s in the background, the melodic base and deep percussion, we know we are in for a smooth track. And the lyrics that accompany this sentiment are smooth also, as he reminisces on his trip to Jamaica and displays satisfaction at planning a future for his possible kids.

“A well-timed reminder of who sits at the top of rap today”

Then at about the one minute and twenty second mark, this beat and flow are completely replaced (in true K. Dot fashion, reminiscent of much of what he was doing in untitled. unmastered) by a much more West Coast classic hip-hop beat, while maintaining some melodic guitars and back-up singing. The beat then goes on to twist and turn in a number of ways, too many for me to describe them all, yet maintaining an aggressiveness in it that matches Kendrick’s lyrics.

Overall, it’s impossible to list every single thing Kendrick does lyrically here, and even choosing standouts from this track was a real challenge. Although this was not treading unfamiliar territory for Kendrick, it was a well-timed reminder of who sits at the top of rap today, and judging from his last few projects he is leaving the more experimental stuff for his full-length album expected to drop soon, possible even on 7th April as he suggests with his closing line “Y’all got til the 7th of April to get y’all shit together”. If this is true, other rappers might as well start planning their Easter holidays because no one will be talking about anything other than King Kendrick Lamar for a while.

Nicolas Caballero

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