This week's Friday's Heat features: Kendrick Lamar, Mike WiLL Made-It, Raekwon, Gorillaz, and Katy Perry (yes, Katy Perry).
“The Heart Part 4” by Kendrick Lamar
Yesterday, Kendrick teased a potential new album cover with a bare black back drop, set behind a simple roman numeral four. Could it be? Is Cornrow Kenny gracing us with his fourth studio album? The mysterious picture conjured up rumors, ideas, wonder, and hopes. One day later, we’ve received a single off this promised project, “The Heart Part 4.”
I always forget how much I’ve missed Kendrick until I hear a new song from the Compton rapper. I’ve exhausted this point, but he’s the main fixture of a dying breed—lyricists. Whenever he drops something, anything—song, feature, narration—it’s a comforting reminder that Hip Hop’s roots are still being watered—even if by only a select few gardeners.
“The Heart Part 4” continues Lamar’s “The Heart” series, whose predecessors appeared on various other K. Dot projects. On this track, Kendrick returns to classic form by layering wordplay, references, and subtle disses to support his final warning to other rappers that he is not to be trifled with—physically or lyrically. Almost continuing his lethal “Control” verse’s threat towards industry charlatans, Kendrick airs out his frustration towards fake supporters and imposter MCs. Ending his second verse with, “Y'all got 'til April the 7th to get ya'll shit together,” suggests that we will have K. Dot’s fourth solo studio album by then. In the words of former Jets linebacker Bart Scott, “can’t wait.”
“Perfect Pint” by Mike WiLL Made-It featuring Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, and Rae Sremmerud
Today, March 24th, super producer Mike Will Made-It drops off his album, Ransom 2, complete with his staple dynamic, entrancing production, and a host of superstar features. From Future to Big Sean and 2 Chainz to Pharrell, this track list is dominated by an eclectic mix of some of today’s biggest stars. In keeping with today’s Kendrick motif, I can’t help be drawn towards his song, “Perfect Pint,” also featuring Wop and Rae Sremmerud.
Mike Will has an innate ability to extract his guest artists’ best versions, and “Perfect Pint” is no exception. Gucci comes in on the second verse, delivering solid, succinct bars accompanied with numerology wordplay, classic braggadocio, and an infectious, gravitating confidence that has us all yelling, “say Guwop home!” This interesting combination of features on this song (Kendrick and Gucci are essentially perfect strangers based off content and style, but each are leaders in their respective disciplines) provides contrasting energies that should resist one another, but if second grade science taught us anything, it’s that opposites attract. Gucci and K. Dot are a magnetic force. Kenny comes in guns blazing on the track’s closing verse in his typical lyrical authority. Being in the presence of Gucci and Rae is certainly a confidence booster, and when you couple that with Kendrick’s established self-assurance, you get a pristine product. Kendrick’s verse is a pristine product.
While this track is a standout, the entire album deserves a listen.
“This Is What It Comes Too [Remix]” by Raekwon featuring Ghost Face Killah
Wait, wait, wait—hold up. My birthday is in August, and Hannukah is in December, so why am I receiving this incredible gift of a new Raekwon and Ghost Face song in March? I’m not sure, but who am I to question free, amazing gifts.
Ahead of his album, The Wild, that dropped today, Raekwon teamed up with Wu Tang collaborator, Ghost Face, to release this gritty, nostalgic sounding track to remind new wave Hip Hop fans of rap’s former glory days of stinging punchlines, layered bars, deep thoughts, and an unrivaled bravado. While this form of Hip Hop dwindles by the day, we’re lucky to receive reminders from some of this great genre’s pioneers. The original version is featured on this new album, but to satiate Wu Tang patron’s hunger, he teamed up with Ghost Face to release this scintillating remix.
Go peep The Wild, to hear more from one of Hip Hop’s legendary MCs.
“Ascension” by Gorillaz featuring Vince Staples
I remember being 10-years-old watching MTV—yes, way back—when Gorillaz’ “19-2000” came on the screen, and completely captivated me. The demonic looking anime cartoons, coupled with the dystopian scenery and entertaining sonics, firmly grabbed my attention and refused to let go. I was hooked. Now, about 16-years later, the British animated band has promised a new album. And who is lucky enough to be featured on one of their first singles off said project? My main man, Vince Staples.
While the Gorillaz have frequently collaborated with Hip Hop acts, I wouldn’t have ever assumed Vince’s name would’ve appeared on their track listing. Probably because of the age/music gap, but the pairing not only makes sense, it works. Vince is modern-day gangster rapper who contextualizes his 16s with frightening stories of his Long Beach adolescence, and the Gorillaz are an enigmatic, one-of-a-kind talent who frequently employ dark realities to structure their songs. They’re like kindred spirits.
Upbeat, over-stimulating instrumentals lay the icy foundation for Vince to effortlessly skate across, as he raps about how the world’s impending doom forces him to prioritize his life values. His painted word picture leads nicely into 2D’s verse, who uses a terse lyrical scheme to illustrate how dire times reframe one’s mindset to embrace only the most important things.
This is the fourth single off the Gorillaz’ upcoming project, and I for one cannot wait for the drop.
“Chained to the Rhythm (Remix)” by Katy Perry featuring Lil Yachty
Hi, my name is Zach, and I do not support this song. No, I’ve never been a fan of Katy Perry’s (except for her bodacious tatas), but when I see this milky white pop star team up with internet sensation Lil Yachty, my curiosity is piqued, and I want to write about it.
In a world riddled with racism and polarization, it’s comforting to see two individuals with starkly different aesthetics from completely different walks of life unite in the name of music. Paying homage to Katy, Yachty supplemented this track with his staple auto-tuned, nasally voice while leaving her chorus intact. I wouldn’t say he deepened this song—in all honesty he probably detracted from its value—but its kind of like a car wreck that you can’t look away from. I mean, it’s Lil Yachty and Katy Perry. I haven’t seen a weirder pairing since Jeff Sessions and the White House.
I’m not going to recommend adding this song to your regular rotation, but it’s a curious duality of styles that unleashes an interesting product.