Hello, Fellow Music-Heads! If you’re really big into the music scene, you probably already know what I’m going to be reviewing today. After five years of radio silence since his last project, “DAMN”, Kendrick Lamar has just dropped his latest LP, “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers”.
As one of the biggest influences and greatest rappers in modern music, this album came with a ton of anticipation and expectations. Did he live up to the hype? Let’s discuss!
A balance between the digestibility of ‘DAMN’, and the brilliant social commentaries of ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ & ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers has no shortage of hard-hitting emotionally raw songs and touching piano instrumentals.
Since the release of the project, every song has grown on me. “Father Time” is easily my favourite song of 2022 now, and“N95”&“Saviour”were not instant hits for me, but the catchiness and throwback Kung-Fu Kenny sounds of those songs grew on me over time. Essentially, most of my original issues with the project have faded away as I listened more.
Between the heartstring-pulling production in songs like ‘Purple Hearts’ and ‘United In Grief’, and the incredibly personable introspection in the songs about Kendrick’s parents (‘Father Time’ and ‘Mother I sober’ ), Kendrick displays that he still has all the talent he’s ever had.
On top of all his proven talent, Kendrick now has the wisdom and introspection of someone who is, himself, a parent. In songs like ‘United In Grief’, we can see Kendrick revisiting themes that he has discussed in the past with an older and wiser viewpoint. On top of this, this wiser and older Kendrick now discusses new issues, including LGBTQ prejudice in the controversial ‘Auntie Diaries’, and some very personal trauma, especially in the somber ‘Mother I Sober’.
Songs like Father Time’ and ‘Mother I Sober’ are some of the sincerest songs I’ve ever heard and are the type of song that instantly go down as classics in a rapper’s discography. They show that Kendrick has gotten to the point where he is comfortable discussing really touchy subjects and add onto the album’s overarching theme of Kendrick’s growth as a person.
This growth really helps me to enjoy the album. It gives me somebody to root for and gives Kendrick a reasonable point to retire and a reasonable closing album after a successful 10+ year career (were he to retire).
The features in this album, with the odd exception, are all very strong, and very apparently cautiously picked. Baby Keem thrived on his interlude, and then again on the chorus of ‘Saviour’. Summer Walker and Sampha provided beautiful R&B vocals on their performances, and Taylor Paige did a flawless job as the girlfriend on the song about toxic relationships, ‘We Cry Together’. These are my personal highlights, but nearly every feature on this record is worthy of consideration for the best feature of the album.
Overall, this album is nearly perfect. It shows the growth and maturity of a rapper who has showed both introspection and immaturity over the past ten years. It’s a perfect balance between experimentality and enjoyability. It brings new viewpoints to deep subjects and shows Kendrick truly opening up about his long-term trauma. The project is not a victory-lap. That would imply that Kendrick is much more materialistic than he really is. This project is Kendrick showing true growth and showing that Kendrick is still the greatest rapper of the 21st century. Very close to being a perfect 5, to me, this album is a 4.5/5.