It took a village to create Kendrick Lamar’s mind-melting new video for his song “The Heart Part 5,” which on the surface is just him performing in front of a red backdrop until you realize that his face deepfakes into those of OJ Simpson, Jussie Smollett, Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant and Kanye West (who, ironically, himself dropped a video the same day using deepfake technology).
While the video was directed and executive produced by Lamar and longtime creative collaborator Dave Free and features a host of creative collaborators (listed below), the deep fake is credited to Deep Voodoo, a studio launched by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to specialize in the technology — and the “The Heart Part 5” video appears to be the first fruit of a partnership between Lamar’s PGLang company and the “South Park” founders’ Park County banner to produce a new feature film for Paramount Pictures. (Lamar, Parker, Stone and reps for PG Lang and Deep Voodoo all declined Variety’s requests for an interview about the video.)
The Deep Voodoo studio — the name of which almost certainly was chosen in part for its phonic similarity to the term “deep doodoo” — made its first major splash late in 2020 with “Sassy Justice,” a spoof of a television investigative report on deep fakes done in collaboration with actor Peter Serafinowicz. It’s a 15-minute video — which Parker described as “probably the single most expensive YouTube video ever made” — that features a white-wigged, campy-voiced host named Fred Justice (wearing Donald Trump’s face), commercials from a hideously overpriced dialysis center with a pitchman wearing Mark Zuckerberg’s face, fake interviews with then-President Trump (one while he’s having a stroke and later admitting he’s led a horrible life), Al Gore, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and others saying things they’d never say about deepfaked people saying things they’d never say — and some of it is so effectively done that it’s hard to tell whether the Michael Caine cameo is really him (it’s not).
As Parker told the New York Times in October of 2020 , “[Deep fake] really is this new form of animation for people like us, who like to construct things on a shot-by-shot level and have control over every single actor and voice. It’s a perfect medium for us.”
The film, a live-action comedy written by Vernon Chatman, will “depict the past and present coming to a head when a young Black man, who is interning as a slave re-enactor at a living history museum, discovers that his white girlfriend’s ancestors once owned his,” according to the announcement in January.
Lamar and PGLang partner Free will produce the project alongside Stone and Parker. Paramount Pictures will handle theatrical distribution, home entertainment and television licensing rights on the project, with Paramount Plus acquiring streaming rights. Production on the feature currently is in development.
“The Heart Part 5” is the first song to be released from Lamar’s long-awaited album, “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers,” which is due on Friday. He has won 13 Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for his work over the course of four albums, several mixtapes and his last full-length project, which was for another major motion picture, 2018’s “Black Panther.” Lamar produced the soundtrack to the film, which earned a best original song Oscar nomination for his track “All the Stars” with SZA and won two Grammys.
Lamar and Free launched PGLang in 2020, with the venture described as a multi-lingual company with aims to communicate “this generation’s creative language through mediums exemplifying the shared experiences that connect us all.”
Stone and Parker are best known as the five-time Emmy-winning creatives behind “South Park,” which is set to air its 25th season in 2022. The duo recently inked a new deal with MTV Entertainment Studios that sees the series through Season 30, with 14 original made-for-streaming movies for Paramount Plus and the development of new to-be-announced series also in the works. The pair are also behind 1999’s Oscar-nominated feature “South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut.” In 2004, they released the feature-length film “Team America: World Police.” The duo also teamed up with Robert Lopez to create the nine-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Book of Mormon.”
Additional reporting by Angelique Jackson.
Kendrick Lamar “The Heart Part 5”
Directed by Dave Free & Kendrick Lamar
Production Company: pgLang / project3
Executive Producers: Dave Free, Kendrick Lamar
Producers: Jason Baum, Jamie Rabineau
Deep Fake: DEEP VOODOO
Director of Photography: Christopher Ripley
1st AD: Bashir Taylor
Production Designer: Eric Hersey
Wardrobe Stylist: Taylor McNeill
Groomer: Jenn Hanching
Hair Stylist: Khristien “Khristn” Ray
Barber: Victor Arellano
Editor: Neal Farmer
Colorist: Mikey Rossiter
Commissioner: Michelle An
Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and DEEP VOODOO
Thank you to our team at pgLang