Kendrick Lamar drops new album following 5-year wait


Photo by Anna Darby

Senior Becca McMillen researches in preparation for Kendrick Lamar’s new album.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar released his fifth and last studio album with Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE), Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, on May 13. 

Since his most recent album DAMN, Lamar’s fans have been increasingly eager  for new music. Lamar has been on the pop culture radar since his debut album Section.80 and was catapulted into the spotlight after his groundbreaking album good kid, M.A.A.D. City in 2012.

The album cover for Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers has been one of the first things noticed by the media. Lamar poses holding what was assumed to be his second child as he reveals him to the world. This cover heavily relates to the storyline of an album more intimate than previous works with Lamar’s thoughts of his past and his hiatus.

This album is set to be his last with TDE, a music production company responsible for  notable artists like SZA, Jay Rock and Reason. Lamar has since then co-founded a multi-disciplinary media company and has signed on rapper Baby Keem, who is Lamar’s cousin.

The album in its entirety contains 18 songs, all of which offer a profoundly different experience to the listener. The eighth track on the album, “We Cry Together,” is unlike anything seen in mainstream rap. The song consists mostly of a fight between a couple, conveyed through spoken words following the beat.

Another song that quickly caught the attention of LGBTQ+ listeners was “Auntie Diaries.” In this song Lamar reveals his experience with his trans family members. The song was controversial for its use of the f-slur, although it’s clear to see it was used to emphasize the casualty the word used to have.

Senior Becca McMillen said, “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I felt as though Kendrick’s usage of the fslur was acceptable, because he used it in a fashion that portrayed to his audience the weight that word carries.”

Kendrick’s album covers a variety of topics from father issues to sexual assault and cultural expectations of Black men in America, bringing to light many issues he’s faced.

In his fifth track “Father Time feat. Sampha” Lamar said, “Oh, this the part where mental stability meets talent? Oh, this the part, he breaks my humility just for practice? Tactics we learned together, sore losers forever, daddy issues.”

Lamar has opened a new door in rap culture and is using his platform to express his art and break the stigma around speaking on your personal problems. As cryptic as Lamar’s lyrics may seem sometimes, they have more meaning than meets the eye and offer an auditory experience for the listener.

I  give the album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, 9.5/10 for multiple reasons. Lamar is creating a cultural shift in rap music, in addition to amazing us with his skills as a lyricist and continuing to fuel the fire of inspiration in his fans.