Kendrick Lamar’s fifth album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, is set for release on Friday, and to prepare everyone, he dropped a new music video over the weekend featuring a sizable roster of uncanny, deepfake cameos. Co-directed by Dave Free and Lamar, “The Heart Part 5” includes the GOAT morphing into the likes of O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, and Will Smith, as well as the late Kobe Bryant and Nipsey Hussle. Surely nothing to analyze, ponder, or discuss here...
For the trivia-minded of you out there, Lamar’s many deepfakes were supplied by Deep Voodoo, the studio co-founded in 2020 by South Park masterminds Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The pair even got a “Special Thanks” in the video’s credits. Check out the clip below:
Deeper down the rabbit hole — While deepfake tech can generate interesting and thought-provoking projects like Lamar’s “The Heart Part 5,” those kinds of usages are still vastly overshadowed by those employing the visual trickery for more damaging projects. At the heart of deepfakery is deception, after all, and that has already resulted in countless bizarre and terrifying examples ranging from faked footage of Ukraine’s President surrendering to Russia, Bob Ross schilling *checks notes* Mountain Dew, and (God help us) Zuckerberg with long hair. Then there’s the constant, unethical usage of deepfakes for porn, which is a whole thing in and of itself.
What’s more, it’s already pretty clear that people are not great at differentiating deepfakes from real videos, even if most of the former results in some creepy, dead-eyed human stand-ins. Knowing all that, we’ll just stick with clever uses like Kendrick’s instead of, say, Napoleon Bonaparte singing the theme from Neon Genesis Evangelion.