REVIEW: Kendrick Lamar – “The Heart Part 4”
by Chad Jewett
After the sheer mass of the psychedelic funk that powered Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 masterpiece To Pimp A Butterfly,“The Heart Part 4” is a bracing left-turn, set as it is to breezy a bed of FM 70s soul that’s as limber as songs like “Wesley’s Theory” were dense. Or at least it starts that way, with feathery auto-tuned harmonies curling around an especially demure Lamar: “Don’t tell a lie on me / I won’t tell a truth ‘bout you.” But before the second minute can roll around Lamar’s delivery becomes sharper, the biting competitor that Lamar morphed into with ease on “Hood Politics” or “The Jig Is Up”. Where Butterfly piled Lamar’s many method-acting personae into one compressed fantasia, “The Heart Part 4” is a multi-part opus, one that gradually gets tenser, more constricted before picking up a thumping minimalist beat while Lamar’s flow becomes more and more aerodynamic as he goes: “I said it’s like that / Dropped one classic, came right back / Another classic: right back / My next album, the whole industry on an ice-pack.” Kendrick Lamar remains one of hip-hop’s most clever, confident linguists, and it’s a joy to see him use that skill to remind you of that skill.