"You know what time it is, ante up, this is in forever / Y’all got ’til April the 7th to get ya’ll shit together."
When Kendrick Lamar spit those closing bars on "The Heart Part 4," the latest entry in his long-running song series that dates back to 2010, the entire internet jumped to the conclusion that TDE's crown jewel would be releasing his fourth full-length album on April 7th.
Less than one week later, during which time neither Kendrick nor TDE CEO Anthony Tiffith offered up anything close to resembling confirmation that the follow-up to Kendrick's GRAMMY-winning To Pimp a Butterfly album would arrive on April 7, the Compton native unleashed his new single, "HUMBLE."
Two weeks, two new songs, a cryptic lyric and a pair of interesting, now-deleted tweets from Joey Bada$$ (who definitely has an album set to drop April 7)—of course, this has to mean Kendrick Lamar's new album is for sure, definitely, without-a-doubt going to be released on April 7, right? (Even though we already know "The Heart Part 4" won't appear on the album.)
On Tuesday (April 4), Yoh wrote an article about Kendrick, Joey Bada$$ and the ongoing fight for consumer attention during the streaming era in light of the fact that Joey's new album, ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, has been slated for an April 7 release since before Kendrick unleashed "The Heart Part 4."
In response to our article, veteran DJ and producer Statik Selektah, who has worked with Joey for years and has two production credits on his new album, hinted at the possibility we should expect a curveball come Friday.
While Statik remained tightlipped about why the idea of a head-to-head battle between Kendrick and Joey wouldn't be a relevant conversation come Friday, nor did he offer any further comment on what, exactly, that curveball entails, this forced us to do some digging.
First, it's important to note that Kendrick has, indeed, recorded a new album, which he first disclosed during an interview in February. This was later confirmed by Tiffith during an impromptu Q&A with fans on Twitter after "HUMBLE." temporarily broke social media.
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Speaking of SZA, as fans should recall from earlier this year, the TDE songstress' long-delayed new album CTRL was supposedly set for a February 3 release. February 3, of course, came and went and the album did not arrive. "If it doesn't come directly from TDE then it isn't official," a TDE source told us on the eve of the album drop.
Armed with the understanding that all TDE album announcements go through Tiffith and the TDE hierarchy, and to date, nobody from the label has acknowledged April 7 as the untitled album's official release date, we decided to take a spin on the ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) website, an internationally recognized identification tool that allows anyone to look up registered sound and music video recordings. As of press time (April 5), the only Kendrick Lamar song from 2017 that is currently in the ISRC database is "HUMBLE."
I know what you're thinking: "Z, why would any other new Kendrick records be in their database if the album has not yet been released?"
Great question, I got you.
Once an album is turned into a label, each track is assigned an ISRC to help uniquely identify the song. For example, the ISRC for "HUMBLE." is USUV71700785, which can be found in the screenshot above and in the URL for the video on VEVO. While it's certainly possible Kendrick's labels have not yet registered any additional tracks besides "HUMBLE.," labels routinely register an album's tracks in the ISRC database prior to the album's release, which means if the album was indeed set to arrive on April 7, it is very likely that more than one song would pop up in a search query a mere 48 hours before the reported release date. Then again, it should be noted that none of the tracks from Joey's A.A.B.A came up in an ISRC search, so it's entirely possible that their database has not been updated or neither label has registered all of the tracks off their respective albums. This could mean everything, or it could mean absolutely nothing.
In an effort to get to the bottom of Kendrickalbumgate, we e-mailed and text messaged label reps at both TDE and Interscope, an executive at Apple Music and Joey Bada$$ himself. As expected, nobody was willing to go on record that, come this Friday, April 7, we absolutely will or will not have a new Kendrick Lamar album in our digital hands. However, there is more than enough circumstantial evidence to indicate that fans shouldn't be up in arms, sending hate-filled tweets at @dangerookipawaa if on Thursday evening, at 11 p.m. EST, a new Kendrick Lamar LP isn't available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal.
Given that Kendrick is scheduled to headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival the following Friday, April 14, it's highly likely the album is indeed coming very soon. As much as fans just hate to exercise patience these days, we all might need to wait a little bit longer than they expected, which, really, isn't such a bad thing. Not only would this give Joey Bada$$, whose album unfortunately sprung a leak last weekend, the chance to shine without a Kendrick album dominating the conversation, but it would also help to create even more dialogue on social media about the project, fueling an even bigger first week (not that Kendrick needs the help).
Stay tuned, friends. Things are about to get very interesting...
Update: Kendrick's new album will be released on Friday, April 14 (aka Good Friday).