Kendrick Lamar ends his song "The Heart Part 4"—a lyrically dense, impressive performance that more than likely takes aim at Big Sean and Drake—with another warning shot: "Y'all got 'til April the 7th to get y'all shit together."
What is Kendrick actually dropping on April 7? Consensus is divided between two options: a new single, or a new album from the Compton rapper. Let's see what we can decipher from K-Dot's message.
Whether you're Team Single or Team Album, the genesis of this speculation starts with the cryptic message Kendrick shared on Instagram featuring the Roman numeral "IV" and no caption. The initial thought was that "IV" represented the announcement of his fourth studio album. What we found out later that night was the IG shared was actually the cover art for "The Heart Part 4." Kendrick has since deleted the IG post.
Here's where things get interesting. "The Heart Part 4" is listed under TDE on all streaming services, but not Aftermath/Interscope. Generally, all three labels are listed when Kendrick releases solo material. Interscope, for its part, has yet to promote the song, so it appears the label is playing into Kendrick/TDE's approach of keeping everything mysterious.
If "The Heart Part 4" is in fact not on Kendrick's upcoming album—earlier entries in that series did not make albums/mixtapes—then April 7 may be the release date for the first official single from the anticipated project. We've reached out to a rep for Kendrick to clarify "April 7."
The day after the song dropped, Apple Music's head of artist curation Carl Chery flexed on IG with a photo of him bumping some new Kendrick while the rapper sat just a few feet away. That and the caption told the story:
"I heard some new 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 from @kendricklamar. Y'all ain't ready!" he wrote. If Kendrick's making moves and going out of his way to play new music for Apple employees, it's unlikely he would do it for just one song. So maybe it is an album?
Now, there's also the Coachella factor, which is a wild card. Kendrick is set to headline the two-weekend California music festival that begins April 14, one week after we all need to get our shit together. A single release seems more sensible beforehand, since Kendrick probably won't be performing new material from the album until he hits the road for a lengthy tour. Then again, he could drop an album and announce his tour simultaneously.
Here's where we need to account for Kendrick's previous album rollout. Let's skip Untitled Unmastered, since that was more of a b-sides/afterglow project. "i" came out nearly six months before To Pimp a Butterfly was released, and while its early drop may have been to grab some Grammy shine (it worked; the song won Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song), cutting K-Dot's rollout to two weeks would be a drastic change. Even in an era in which surprise drops have become the norm, there's still something to gain from a more conventional rollout.
Devil's advocate: Kendrick revealed the release date for To Pimp a Butterfly two weeks before it was supposed to be released. And then it dropped a week ahead of its intended release.
But let's keep it real here. Who is really pulling the strings when it comes to TDE releases? TDE CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith. He's been supportive of "The Heart Part 4" and confirmed the album is coming soon, but no release date has been hinted at, nor any talk of April 7 on his timeline.
hell yeah lol https://t.co/QD1fQ7K8S9— TOP DAWG TDE (@dangerookipawaa) March 26, 2017
Does that bring us back to square one? We'll let you decide for now. But come this evening, get y'all shit together.