Kendrick Lamar season has officially begun. The rapper’s long-awaited fifth album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers finally arrives this Friday, and he kickstarted his rollout on Sunday with a new song and video for “The Heart Part 5,” a new entry in the series of songs he began back in 2010. The video begins simply enough, with Lamar rapping looking slightly off camera against a maroon backdrop. “As I get a little older, I realize life is perspective.” That, and a message before the video that reads “I am all of us,” take on different meaning around the 1:45 mark when Lamar turns toward the camera and his face morphs into… OJ Simpson’s. This continues for the rest of the video, with him taking on the visages of Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith—all notably in the news for recent problematic behavior. The transformations appear to correlate with the lyrics: OJ appears as Lamar interpolates a classic Jay-Z line, who of course made “The Story of OJ,’ there’s a bipolar mention when Ye appears, and the lyric “in the land where hurt people hurt more people” occurs when Smith appears.
In the final verse, Lamar takes on two fallen Los Angeles giants: Kobe Bryant and Nipsey Hussle. The third verse appears to be completely from Nipsey’s perspective, with lines like “Should I feel resentful I didn’t see my full potential,” telling his family he’s “in heaven,” and addressing his brother Black Sam, the morning he died, and “the killer that spurred my demise.” The credits for the include feature a special thanks to South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
The rest of the song features Lamar tackling the ills, hypocrisies, and dualities of the “the culture” over a slick sample of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You,” essentially functioning as a State of the Union address, clearing the decks before the album. (Which tracks, since most of “The Heart” songs precede a new project.) A picture Lamar posted last week implies the new project is actually a double album; there’s surely a lot more to come in the days leading up to its release. Watch “The Heart Part 5” below.