Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers strengthened the legacy Kendrick Lamar’s past albums previously created


Renell Medrano

The crown, his soon-to-be wife, their two kids, and Kendrick all present in the album photo.

Kendrick Lamar has spoken once again.

Already, it has been five years since DAMN reoriented our lives, and I’ve never met somebody who resents “HUMBLE.” or “PRIDE.” Ranging from young teenagers to elders, this album was a pivotal breakthrough for listeners everywhere. Prior to the release of this album, Lamar released the monumental, sonorous poetry To Pimp A Butterfly: an album I’m confident in saying is the best hip-hop album of our generation.

To nobody’s surprise, his newest release with Top Dawg Entertainment, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, was exceptionally produced and relieved the built-up excitement that has accumulated since DAMN. Lamar, of course, raps verses regarding black youth in America and his experience, but he also continued the theme of strong family connections. However, there was nothing else I expected; Lamar is always rapping his slightly controversial ideas, significant views on social problems, and preaching the discrepancies to a world that lacks awareness.

On Disc 1, Lamar mentions a lot about how he feels and interprets feelings. It was more emotionally driven, but no matter the depth of his message, there’s always a beat that fits the flow and speed of his words. Rapping at a million words a minute—or so it seems—Lamar is incredibly well-spoken. He could have the most unhinged background and still convey his deeper meaning with no skips and no flaws. I can almost make out word-for-word what he’s saying, which makes it a suitable listen for those who want to relax, yet have their brain be engaged with something.

Heavy is the head that chose to wear the crown/To whom is given much is required now.

Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is his first double album, which, in simpler terms, means that one album is divided into two CDs or LPs. On Disc 1, the cathartic tone pours all this emotion and empathy onto the listener as Disc 2 reaches higher up the queue. Once it reaches the first song “Count Me Out,” aggression and irritation become the most prevalent tones.

However, this album encompasses a broad spectrum of different themes. A big part of the album regards racism and systemic issues in the United States, but it touches on materialism, queerness, disloyalty, religion, and sexual assault. Despite the amount of time I’ve been listening to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, there is one part that confuses me. Recently, South Florida rapper Kodak Black, who makes multiple appearances periodically throughout tracks, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and battery of a high school female.

Lamar elaborates on these topics clearly in Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers and on past albums, even mentioning Harvey Weinstein. It’s contradictory, and for that reason, “Silent Hill” was my least favorite song; there’s no such thing as a bad Lamar song, but in the general scope of it all, Kodak Black was chewing the lyrics rather than rapping. His verses seemed out of his normal range of words, and Lamar was showing him up. Mumble rap is not allowed on a Lamar album, and he too has never seemed as disconnected with the track as Kodack Black was.

Artists featured on Lamar’s album were just too perfect aside from the confusing wormhole of Kodack Black’s appearance and his extensive list of controversies. Some of these names I wasn’t familiar with entirely, almost making me scared that the song wasn’t going to be good. However, “Purple Hearts” changed my mindset; I let the wavering vibrations of the wistful lyrics undulate in my mind, sending me into a trance.

Heart plays in ways the mind can’t figure out / This is how we conceptualize human beings.

Disc 2 immediately plays next and wow. The change in energy is nearly refreshing and empowering. I almost feel as though I should be smiling or sitting up correctly to entirely take in what this genius has to tell me. “Crown” holds more than enough moments where I felt like Lamar was in my room, hand-feeding me some of the best music ever. Quotes and lessons, more quotes and emotions—somewhere in the midst of the magic, “Savior (Interlude)” rang through my ears.

I’m not one to listen to religious music of any sort, but this one makes an obvious exception. It’s not shocking that Lamar incorporated Christianity, but he does it in a strategic way like everything else. It’s perfect. It’s a 10. Production for not only this song, but his entire discography is far more advanced than what we see in newer rappers. No matter what Lamar to his many features say, anybody can enjoy this song no matter their religion, skin color, or political and social views in America’s society.

Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers clocks in a few minutes shorter than To Pimp A Butterfly and almost a half-hour more than DAMN. All 78 minutes of his newest album feel shorter than it actually seems, and that further convinces me of Lamar’s divine seize on hip hop and rap. Fans like myself cannot get enough of what he has to rap about, and not once has it ever been boring, disengaging, or deterring.

Kendrick Lamar will forever be a name in the rap game. Having been on a victorious streak, in terms of being the “GOAT,” Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers and his past projects have left me with no more words left to write. No adjectives, no nothing; but now, I have to live with the heavy anticipation of new Kendrick.