Kendrick Lamar’s Secret Rhyming Techniques Revealed on The Heart Part 5

If you’re a rapper or a fan of Kendrick Lamar’s music then I think you’re really going to enjoy this video! I’m about to share with you some super-advanced rhyming techniques that Kendrick’s using in the 1st verse of his song “The Heart Part 5”. Let’s get straight to it!

Kendrick Lamar The Heart Part 5 (RHYME SCHEME ANALYSIS)

Length of Rhyme Schemes

Now In this verse, Kendricks’s top priority is his message. He doesn’t allow himself to get boxed in by committing to long rhyme scheme patterns.

For example, Kendrick doesn’t typically keep his rhyme schemes going for more than two bars. This prevents his rhyme schemes from having too much influence on the direction of his message because the longer we remain in a rhyme scheme the fewer words we have to choose from that connect with what we’re really trying to express in our lyrics.

BARS 5-6 and 7-8

For example on bars 5 and 6 his rhyme scheme is city, busy, and risky and then on bars 7 and 8 he switches to a new multi-syllable internal rhyme scheme with “sensitized”, “vandalized”, and “camouflaged”. And at the end of bar 8 “analyze” is used to transition into yet another new rhyme scheme that begins on bar 9. Also on bars 7 and 8 his end rhyme scheme is “pain” and “rain”.

BARS 9-10 and 11-12

Kendrick also does the same thing on bars 9 and 10 as he’s technically juggling 3 rhyme schemes at once with “Yo”, and “tha” which he repeats and ”Charge” and “yard”.

BARS 11-12

On bars 11 and 12 he switches his rhyme scheme again to “lockdown” and “shutdown” on the 2nd beat and “called” and “volved” on the 4th beat.

Rhyme Scheme Placement

Also, Kendrick takes the liberty of shifting the placement of some of the words within his rhyme schemes so that their timing is not in sync. He likely does this for the same reason as I previously mentioned about letting what he’s wanting to say take precedence over the rhyme schemes.

This can initially create tension and be offputting to the listener because you’re expecting him to land on the same beat as his previous rhyme did, but instead he lands somewhere else.

I feel like this tension ties in perfectly with the message and emotion of his lyrics because he’s talking about a lot of uncomfortable topics and it makes his lyrics feel more raw, gritty, and less polished. 

As listeners, we’ve been conditioned to expect rhyme schemes to land close to the same spot from one bar to another and Kendrick does this enough to please the listener and make the placement of his rhymes somewhat predictable while also breaking the structure of his rhymes schemes to create tension and keep you guessing.

Let’s take a listen to where this occurs on bars 13-16 and then I’ll explain how he executed it.

BARS 13-14

Now on bars 13-16, notice how Kendrick rhymes “seen” and “teen” on beats 1 and 2 of bar 13, and then he doesn’t rhyme with these words again until the 4th beat of bar 14 with “weed”. 

This is where you feel the tension because “weed” is not landing on the same beat as either of the previous rhymes. Also, another cause of this tension is “weed” doesn’t rhyme with “house” from bar 13. More on that in just a second.


He doesn’t rhyme at all with “seen” or “teen” on bar 15. This is actually a very advanced rhyming technique. Here’s the takeaway, If you have a 4-bar rhyme scheme pattern going like we have here, you can break the rhyme scheme on the 3 bar of a 4 bar pattern and fill it in with an internal rhyme and then complete your initial rhyme scheme on the 4th bar. This is how you can make an odd-numbered rhyme scheme pattern feel even.

This is because when you break the rhyme scheme on the 3rd bar, you trick the listener into thinking you’ve begun a new rhyme scheme because you’ve already completed a 2 bar rhyme scheme at this point but then you reveal that you haven’t switched rhyme schemes by finishing your rhyme scheme on the 4th bar. It’s a form of misdirection and it’s almost like a lyrical magic trick that rappers sometimes play on their listeners.

Rhyme Scheme Placement (resumed)

Now on bar 16 he resumes his rhyme scheme with “ceed” on beat 1 and “dreams” on beat 4. The placement of “ceed” lines up with “seen” from bar 13 beat 1 and “dreams” aligns up with “weed” on beat 4 of bar 14 which relieves the tension and gives you a nice sense of resolution and completion to end the verse.

Now let’s jump back to another rhyme scheme Kendrick is juggling here which begins with the word “house” on beat 4 of bar 13. He continues to rhyme with this word on bars 14 and 15 with the repetition of 3 “outs” and notice how none of these words land on the same beat as “house” until the syllable “counts” on the 4th beat of bar 15.

This is where the rhyme scheme starts resolving the tension that Kendrick created followed by “ceed” and “dreams” which brings this chaotic rhyme scheme to a wonderfully executed ending.

Rhyme Scheme Placement (resumed)

Another thing I found interesting about Kendricks’s rhymes is that he doesn’t rhyme on the 4th beat too often. The 4th beat is one of the most common places that rappers place their rhymes. However, Kendrick places a lot of his rhyme schemes around the 2nd beat.

BARS 1-4

For example on bars 1-4 he has a 4-bar rhyme scheme going beginning with “minor” which bounces in between the 2nd and 3rd beat. Also on bars 3 and 4 he drifts this rhyme a bit by changing the 2nd syllable of his rhyme scheme from the “nur” sounds to the “en” sounds.

And I’m curious to know, is there a specific song that you’d like to see me break down next? Let me know in the comments section below!

My name is Cole Mize with where I strive to make you a better rapper now. If you’re trying to perfect your rap skills make sure you get yourself a FREE copy of my eBook the #1 fundamental and you’ll also get a free copy of Kendrick’s bar sheet that I used in this video plus many more free goodies. And always remember, when it comes to rapping, there’s no rules, there’s only techniques! Peace!

  • I consider Kendrick a poet and not a rapper.
    I have been changing my bars constantly on the same beat to the point of having writers block. As a novice I have gotten in the way of too much structure with everything . Saying to myself “ maybe it’s the beat, or these lyrics don’t go with the theme?” etc…
    I have to realize I’m first a poet and not a rapper and to just let it go and write the message.
    Kendrick has shown it’s ok to do this . Then you can go back and shape accordingly with everything.
    Bottom line personally is the “The Message” is what’s important” which take prestige over the layers of commercialized rap culture we now live in.

    • Totally! I’m a songwriter/guitarist, so I write more to Melodies than beats, but it’s so easy to get trapped in structure and a consistent rhyme scheme. MF Doom broke those rules on purpose, and still got his point across. I feel like Kendrick does the same thing, but doesn’t sacrifice his need to tell a story, or get a point across, in the process.

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