A new idea for the meaning of Kendrick Lamar’s “oklama” theorizes that it comes from the language of the Choctaw indigenous people.
Dissect host Carl Cuchna explained on the show: “Okla, which you may recognize from Oklahoma, means ‘people’ in Choctaw. The Choctaw definition for ‘ma’ is a marker used when addressing someone, like ‘my lord.’ So oklama translates to ‘my people.’ Within the Choctaw translations of the Bible, the phrase oklama is often used when a poet or prophet is addressing God’s people on God’s behalf.”
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He continued: “oklama meaning ‘my people’ seems to fit exactly into the messaging of ‘The Heart Part 5,’ which begins with a quote from oklama, ‘I am. All of us.’ Kendrick even specifically says ‘my people’ just before he begins rapping.”
Dissect co-writer Femi Olutade also cites Lamar’s 2011 collaboration with Jay Rock, “My People.”
Lamar signed off on the announcement of his upcoming album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers using the oklama name in August 2021. The project is scheduled to release this Friday, May 13.
The legendary rapper shared his first single as a lead artist since 2018 on Sunday night with “The Heart Part 5.” It’s unclear whether the song will be included on the new album. In the music video for the track, Lamar uses deep fake technology to morph his face into that of Kanye West, Kobe Bryant, and more.
Check out Carl Cuchna’s breakdown of oklama below.