It's both immediate, and complex...

Kendrick Lamar has never sought to move in a straight line.

Right from those early freestyles, the Compton rapper has always desired to switch things up, embracing change as a core aspect of his creativity.

Since the release of his Pulitzer winning 'DAMN.' in 2017, the world has been through some changes - it was always clear that this context would bleed into his new album.

Out on May 13th, 'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers' is easily one of the year's most anticipated records, precisely because no one is sure what to expect.

A surprise release, 'The Heart Part 5' is the first sign of Kendrick's intentions, opening with a breezy rhythm that recalls the influence of Brazilian culture.

Switching it up with a neat sample of Marvin Gaye's 'I Want You', the arrangement focusses on gradual evolution, its caramel-soft feel partnered with lyrics of novelistic depth.

Referencing lockdown, the George Floyd murder, and the loss of Black icons, 'The Heart Part 5' focusses on suffering and survival.

A song that bears witness to the Black American experience, the video embraces pivotal, sometimes controversial figures. Kendrick's face morphs into the likes of O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Kobe Bryant, Will Smith and Nipsey Hussle - the latter during lyrics such as "I can't express how I love y'all / I don't need to be flesh to hug y'all..."

At times beautiful, at others puzzling, Kendrick Lamar manages to both exceed and defy expectations with 'The Heart Part 5', a song that adds powerful new levels to his catalogue.

As he puts it: "I said I do it for my culture..."

Tune in now.

'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers' will be released on May 13th.

- - -

-

Join us on VERO

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.

Follow Clash: