- 13 May 22
18 track Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is the rapper's first full length release since 2017's Pulitzer winning DAMN.
Acclaimed Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar has returned to the charts with Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, his first full-blown release in five years. His 2017 album - Pulitzer winning DAMN. - seems like a lifetime away.
In a rap sphere that is constantly changing, Kendrick has always been at the forefront of that evolution. The 34 year-old is one of the most well respected artists in the business, the voice of a generation spreading unspoken stories of life in America. So what does he have to say after all this time? And what does the new album tell us about the state of rap culture today?
His fifth album takes another turn with his most vulnerable release to date. Many tracks are more spoken word than rap, expressed with a certain weariness - a side of the rapper we've rarely seen. In the cover art, we see Kendrick in a crown of thorns, symbolising his 'Savior' status in the African-American community. Him and his partner each hold a baby to emphasise his role as a father to two children. Confirmed in the piano backed 'Crown', he relates his battles under the pressures of toxic masculinity and fame.
He candidly breaks down themes of family in 'Father Time,' 'Auntie Diaries,' and 'Mother I Sober'. It's a brutally emotional affair. The album is a narrative reflection on coming to terms with trauma "In a world where hurt people hurt more people". At times it's tense and uncomfortable to stare these issues down so bluntly - but this is just the reaction the rapper is hoping for.
Lamar announced Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers less than a month ago. The 18-song, two disk record marks the rapper’s final LP and end of contract with longtime label Top Dawg Entertainment.
Earlier this week, Lamar shared the album’s first and only single ‘The Heart Part 5’ which does not appear on the album. It went viral for its unsettling video, which used deepfake technology to incorporate CGI cameos from the faces of Kanye West, Will Smith, OJ Simpson and the late Nipsey Hussle.
'The Heart Part 5' was his first headlined release since 2018's ‘All The Stars’ - the lead single from his self-curated Black Panther soundtrack.
This album features loads of artists including: Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, R&B singer Summer Walker, singer-songwriter Sampha, Baby Keem, Ghostface Killah, Kodak Black, and Thundercat.
It also credits writing and production contributions from Pharrell, the Alchemist, Beach Noise, Boi-1da, among others. The album is frequently narrated in the form of samples from Eckhart Tolle: the spiritual teacher and author known for The Power of Now.
Listen to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers now.