Kendrick Lamar has released a new music video for his song “The Heart Part 5” in which his face morphs into that of several other famous black men – including O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, Jussie Smollett, and Nipsey Hussle – via deepfake technology. The video debuted on Sunday and had amassed almost 7.5 million views by Monday afternoon, according to NBC News.
Whether produced in photo, video, or audio form, deepfakes are often considered problematic in their use of artificial intelligence (AI) to make entirely fake content look or sound real. Lamar, who directed and produced the video with longtime collaborator Dave Free, embeds the controversial tech at the center of the clip, inextricably linking what he says to how he says it visually.
Pitchfork writer Marc Hogan describes the particular usefulness of deepfake technology in the context of “The Heart Part 5” music video and Lamar’s generally subversive body of work.
While the prospect of fake videos that seem legit has plenty of disturbing implications, it’s also a perfect tool for an artist who has long delighted in employing a range of voices in his work and destabilizing listeners’ concepts of identity.
“South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are credited with the deepfakes throughout the music video, which is the first project to come from the partnership between their studio Deep Voodoo and Lamar’s company pgLang, according to Variety.
Lamar is known for breaking barriers and thinking outside of the box. He has won 14 Grammys for his albums “DAMN,” “To Pimp a Butterfly,” and the soundtrack for the Marvel movie “Black Panther,” and also received the Pulitzer Prize for music for “DAMN” – the first non-classical, non-jazz album to earn the coveted award.
Lamar’s “The Heart Part 5” video marks his return after nearly four years out of the spotlight. His new album “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is scheduled to drop this Friday.