Last night (March 23), Kendrick Lamar unleashed a fiery new track, “The Heart Part 4,” as both a confirmation that new music is on the horizon, and as a warning shot to an unnamed foe or foes.
Instantly, fans dissected the Khalid-assisted track and dropped speculations about its possible targets. Some quickly pointed to Big Sean as a potential mark for these quips. “My fans can’t wait for me to son ya punk ass and crush your whole lil’ shit / I’ll Big Pun ya punk ass, you a scared lil’ bitch.”
Part of that had to do with the juxtaposition between Big Punisher and Big Sean — the former being much larger — but there’s a lot in those last two words. Earlier in his career, “lil’ bitch” was one of Sean Don’s most-used catchphrases, as heard on Meek Mill’s “Burn” and Drake’s “All Me.”
What would the motive be? Well, Sean seemed to be sending thinly-veiled shots at Kendrick on his Beyoncé freestyle “Me, Myself & I” in 2015. “Ya’ll bragging about so and so, like ‘Oh, he really it’ / The new ni**a in rap? But, can he really spit / Or do he just hide behind his skits like half of these rappers do? / And then y’all fucking go and praise him in this bitch like they the savior of this shit.”
The “savior” theme continued on last year’s “No More Interviews,” when Sean rapped: “I’m not impressed with the woopty-woop / I don’t know who is who / And can’t pretend like I’m hip to it, no hula hoop / And I can’t lie like I like this shit like I usually do / I’m just not impressed by you ni**as rapping fast / Who sound like one big asthma attack but trash when I’m rapping it back / Who you put in your top five and claim they the savior of rap?”
Kendrick appears to reply directly to this on “Part 4”: “My future favors the legendary status of a hip-hop rhyme savior.” Later, he adds: “One, two, three, four, five / I am the greatest rapper alive.”
Some fans also thought Sean was rapping about Kendrick when he talked about taking back “Control” on “Bounce Back.” That’s because of the celebrated Kendrick verse on the song, which also features Jay Electronica. However, Sean would later dispel that rumor.
“When I thought of it, I didn’t think of the song ‘Control,’ like on taking back ‘Control,'” he said. “Obviously I can’t take it back, ’cause the song is out there. When I did think of that after it was done, I was like, ‘OK, I guess it can mean that, too.’ I guess people can say, ‘Oh, he’s redeeming himself,’ but that wasn’t what I was thinking. But I don’t give a fuck if you think that. That’s cool, too. I guess that makes it a double thing. I was just talking about taking back control of my life. Fuck what you know—I’m taking back control of all I got goin’ on. I took an L last night, I’m bouncing back right now. I’m taking control of this whole situation, like the universe. The underdog just turned into the wolf and the hunger steady grows. That’s the come-up story right there, all in one line. That sums it all up for the underdog.”
The subject of “Control” once again came up for Sean during a recent interview with “The Breakfast Club,” when host Charlamagne Tha God said that K. Dot performed better on the song. “No, he didn’t,” said Sean. “Stop it. Stop it. How long ago was that? What year is this? And I still don’t feel like I got washed anyway, ni**a.”
Back on “Part 4,” Kendrick seems to point to these perceived indirect slights once again. “Tiptoein’ around my name, ni**a ya lame,” he raps. “And when I get at you homie, don’t you tell me you was just playin’.”
Later, there’s another interesting nod to a Big Sean feature that could also be seen as a jab. “I ain’t sanctified enough to say that I won’t shoot ya,” he raps. Of course, “Sanctified” is the name of a Rick Ross song, which features Sean Don and Kanye West.
Fans were also quick to point to Drake as a possible target of “The Heart Part 4.” In particular, those speculations were highlighted by this line: “Hoe, Jay Z Hall of Fame, sit your punk ass down.” This could be a reference to the subliminal war of words between Drizzy and Hov, just as Jigga walks into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It’s also possible that it’s a “two birds with one stone” instance, since Hall of Fame is the name of Big Sean’s 2013 LP, a project that “Control” was originally meant to be on. Sean, of course, is part of Jay Z’s Roc Nation family.
Drake and Big Sean trying to figure out who Kendrick was sending shots at pic.twitter.com/zy3lY4tmgm
— pt. 😔💕 (@xPTvo) March 24, 2017
Whoever “The Heart Part 4” is about — whether one, two, or more people — there seems to be a timeline for a response: “Y’all got ’til April the 7th to get ya’ll shit together.”
For Kendrick fans, April 7 can’t come soon enough.