Ahead of the release of his upcoming album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar has released another installment of his “The Heart” series. “The Heart Part 5” debuted on Sunday; accompanying its release was a pretty surreal music video where Lamar, against a red backdrop, transforms into different Black celebrities as he performs the song. Through the use of deepfake technology (the use of AI to replace the likeness of one person with another in video and other digital media), Kendrick Lamar becomes O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle throughout the six-minute long video.
Now, deepfakes are inherently weird, and this is surely the first time we’ve seen them used in such a way by a mainstream rap artist. As inventive as it is, there is a bizarreness to the music video as Lamar’s face isn’t just replaced with the faces of living (and dead) Black celebrities, but he raps some of his verses while donning those faces, too.
But which deepfakes were the most bizarre? How about the least? Well, rather than try and interpret every second of the music video (Kendrick fans on Twitter are already going above and beyond around that), we’ve done the real hard work of ranking the deepfakes used in “The Heart Part 5” from least to most bizarre.
As with all six deepfakes, they’re all pretty accurate in their likeness, especially Jussie Smollett’s. Although he’s one of the most unexpected of the bunch, he’s not the most bizarre.
Considering Kanye is actually a rapper, it’s not too unnerving seeing his face rapping Kendrick’s lyrics. However, Kendrick’s hair paired with Kanye’s face might be the most bizarre if our ranking was based solely on that.
Is it just me or does the deepfake of Will Smith just look like a light skin André 3000?
The Kobe deepfake is one of two deceased figures used in the video, and that adds to the bizarreness of it all. But the likeness just feels too uncanny.
It’s the one that starts everything off and it’s so unexpected. The moment Kendrick covered his face only for a deepfake of O.J. to appear, I had to scroll back a few seconds to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind. That, paired with the fact that it’s O.J., is why this deepfake is one of the most bizarre ones from the video.
What makes the Nipsey deepfake the most bizarre is that not only is this the other deceased figure used in the video, but that Kendrick also raps from the perspective of the late rapper when he dons his face. As Nipsey, he directs a few lines at the Crenshaw rapper’s brother Sam Asghedom:
And Sam, I’ll be watchin’ over you
Make sure my kids watch all my interviews
Make sure you live all the dreams we produce
Keep that genius in your brain on the move
And he also exonerates Nipsey’s killer (“I forgive you, just know your soul’s in question“) which, depending on how you view it, could be seen as taking one’s creative license a little too far. But there’s no denying how eerie it is to see Kendrick transform into Nipsey and essentially stay as him until the song comes to a close.
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