|Album||Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers|
|Year of release||2022|
It’s always a bit nerve-racking, the release of an album you have been waiting for for months, years. Luckily, Lamar doesn’t disappoint once again and reaffirms his position as the most important artist in the world at this moment in time.
I first encountered Kendrick Lamar in 2012 when he debuted at a major label: good kid, m.A.A.d city. I loved the album and Lamar never left my sight again. In 2015 the phenomenon Lamar exploded with the release of the fantastic To Pimp A Butterfly, a year later followed by the jazzy untitled unmasterd., which affirmed Lamar’s name as huge talent and important commentator of current times. In 2017 Lamar was attributed with an almost Messiah like aura following the release of DAMN., an album that initially didn’t really gel with me, but really needed some more turns in the cd-player. A year later the soundtrack to the movie Black Panther saw the light of day, on which Lamar played a big role. In 2018 I saw Lamar live in Antwerp, one of the best shows I ever witnessed: King Kendrick! After playing a role in a movie, it turned quiet. On February 13th, 2022, Lamar suddenly reappeared into the spotlight, he performed during the Super Bowl LVI halftime show.
On April 28, 2022, it was announced that Kendrick Lamar, following more than 5 years of silence, would finally release a sequel to the phenomenal DAMN.: Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. 5 days later a picture of a person holding a book and two cd’s looking like master-copies for the album was published on his website oklama.com. So, a double album then?
Op May 9th Lamar posted a video to a new song, The Heart Part 5, showing Lamar’s face morphing into OJ Simpson, Will Smith, Jussie Smollett, Kobe Bryant, Kanye West and Nipsey Hussle, with the use of deepfake technology. An innovative video to a fantastic funky song containing a sample of Marvin Gaye’s sexy I Want You. See the video here.
On May 11th the album cover was posted and on May 13th the album finally arrived on various streaming services. At this moment it’s unclear when physical copies will be available (if at all).
I’ve been going thru something
I’ve been going thru something
Lamar immediately starts off very clearly. He really has been through something indeed. He became a father, won the prestigious Pulitzer prize for his lyrics to the 2017 DAMN., got writer’s block, witnessed himself being crowned as a semi-god, had mental health issues, underwent therapy and overcame his problems. The subjects on the albums range from abuse to transgender family members, being black in the USA, sharing the bed with white women, cancel culture, trauma, grief, media and much more.
Musically speaking the experience is kaleidoscopic. The first part is a perfect mix between To Pimp A Butterfly and DAMN., the second is more contemplative in a way I have never heard Lamar before. What stands out for me is the emotion throughout the album. Lamar goes deep and regularly moves me to tears.
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is a trip that is great all over. From We Cry Together, where the listener is reduced to the role of voyeur to an escalating relationship fight, to Father Timer, which addresses Lamar’s youth and his own fatherhood, and from Savior, with Lamar emphasizing he’s no saint, to the highly moving Mother I Sober, which handles very personal trauma.
When the album is closed with Mirror, with Lamar declaring I choose me, I’m sorry, the rollercoaster that has been Lamar’s life the past 5 years, has been fully experienced. The listener is left behind breathlessly.
Kendrick Lamar once again demonstrates he belongs to a select group of artists, who feel the times and are trendsetters. The album shows we should be thankful for Kendrick Lamar’s seemingly limitless talent.
All songs written by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, helped by various people.
Volume 1 – Big Steppers
- United in Grief
- Worldwide Steppers
- Die Hard (with Blxst and Amanda Reifer)
- Father Time (featuring Sampha)
- Rich (Interlude)
- Rich Spirit
- We Cry Together (with Taylour Paige)
- Purple Hearts (with Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah)
Volume 2 – Mr. Morale
- Count Me Out
- Silent Hill (with Kodak Black)
- Savior (Interlude)
- Savior (with Baby Keem and Sam Dew)
- Auntie Diaries
- Mr. Morale (with Tanna Leone)
- Mother I Sober (featuring Beth Gibbons)
The great single that was released on May 9th, The Heart Part 5, isn’t even part of the album.
On May 13th, 2022, The Big Steppers tour was announced as well. In October 2022 Lamar is visiting Europe: some exciting nights are guaranteed!
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.
Kendrick Lamar – The Big Steppers Tour 2022 image: twitter.com/kendricklamar
Other images: oklama.com