Listen to all four installments of Kendrick Lamar's "The Heart" series.
Kendrick Lamar's "The Heart Part 4" is more than an offensive against Big Sean, Drake, Donald Trump and a declaration that he will (probably) be releasing an album on April 7th. It is the fourth installment in a series of songs that frames his career and gives a clear sense of his artistic progression over the course of the last seven years.
Let's revisit "The Heart" parts one through four.
The Heart Part 1 | April 2010
"The Heart Part 1" music video gives an idea of what Kendrick's life was like in early 2010, a few months before he released Overly Dedicated: waiting around in the rain, frequenting CD stores with Ab-Soul and TDE. He raps for the camera inside the store as Ab-Soul holds up Sade, Curtis Mayfield, and Gladys Knight CDs. He introduces himself humbly as a "lil Compton nigga," and chills backstage at a festival with Jay Rock, J. Cole, and Nipsey Hussle.
The Heart Part 2 | September 2010
"The Heart Part 2." is the only installment of the series to appear on a project, (Overly Dedicated) and it represents a significant upgrade in quality from "Part 1."
The beat is borrowed from The Roots' "A Piece Of Light." Kendrick offers a dim view of life in Compton. His humanity shines bright: "My uncle doing life inside prison, he wasn't wrapped too tight. He told me rap about life, not rat niggas."
The Heart Pt. 3 (Will You Let It Die?) feat. Ab-Soul & Jay Rock | October 2012
Kendrick Lamar put out "Part 3" one day after he recorded it in Vegas and two days before the release of good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Tae Beast lays down a nostalgic Willie Hutch flip and Ab-Soul and Jay Rock take verse two and four respectively as the track winds inevitably towards this stunning conclusion:
"I put my life in these twelve songs, my fight in these twelve songs
The fight to ignite any wrong or right that I prolong
The story was short film, the glory of him and them
The worry of mothers that don't recover when baby's killed
The trial and the tribulations, the newer Miseducation
The view of a body wasting, you knew somebody who ain't make it
The angry, the adolescent, the reason I ask this question
Will you let hip hop die on October 22nd?"
The Heart Part 4 | March 2017
The initial portion of "Part 4" recalls the rich sonic tapestries of To Pimp a Butterfly. Syk Sense and Axlfolie manipulate Khalid's sweet vocal harmonies, and Kendrick is cocky but civil. Then his mood turns foul. The Alchemist and DJ Dahi's spare production lets the 808s do the talking.