For months, Kendrick Lamar has been using the alias “oklama” in anticipation of his upcoming album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. Now, Femi “Athanasios” Olutade – co-writer of music analysis podcast Dissect – may have cracked the code on the alias’ purpose in a new TikTok.
In the 47-second TikTok, Dissect host Carl Cuchna explains that ‘oklama’ “likely originates from Chahta Anumpa, the language of the Choctaw indigenous people.”
“’Okla,’ which you may recognize from Oklahoma, means ‘people’ in Choctaw,” says Cuchna. “The Choctaw definition for ‘ma’ is a marker used when addressing someone, like ‘my lord.’ So ‘oklama’ translates to ‘my people.’ Within the Choctaw translations of the Bible, the phrase ‘oklama’ is often used when a poet or prophet is addressing God’s people on God’s behalf.”
Cuchna also points out that at the beginning of recent single, “The Heart Part 5,” Lamar says “all my people,” which likely confirms Olutade’s analysis. The Dissect co-writer went to Twitter and referenced Lamar and Jay Rock’s 2011 collaboration “My People,” which tackles gang violence.
Olutade added, “Black people committing violence against Black people is a central theme in ‘The Heart Part 5,’ most clearly in the third verse where Kendrick embodies the spirit of Nipsey Hussle who speaks from Heaven after getting killed by another Black man back in 2019.”
While Lamar has not responded to the podcast’s ‘oklama’ breakdown, his new album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers releases Friday, May 13th.
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