The wait is finally over. After five long years, Kendrick Lamar has dropped Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, his highly anticipated follow-up to Damn. As expected, this album is light on features, but they are well-meshed.
The Compton rapper tagged R&B crooner Blxst and Amanda Reifer for “Die Hard,” a groovy, neck-jerking tune. Being the fourth song on the album it takes Kendrick a minute to warm up to the features, but once he does, they start pouring in. Right after this track is “Father Time” featuring Sampha, a bumpy song with an emotional core. Here, Kendrick unpacks his issues with his father. “Daddy issues, hid my emotions, never expressed myself/Men should never show feelings, being sensitive never helped,” K.Dot raps as Sampha hits the chorus.
In other features, Kodak Black appears on a couple songs. He takes on “Silent Hill” with Kendrick, a chill trap track where the two talk about their money and pushing off the fakes like “huh.” Kodak also appears on “Rich-Interlude,” which he takes on a spoken word style rap by himself. Kendrick lends space for his second interlude, “Savior-Interlude,” to his cousin Baby Keem, where he delves further into his family issues. In a bizarre twist, the interlude is also introduced by Eckhart Tolle, a German spiritual teacher who also makes an appearance on “Auntie Diaries” and “Mr.Morale”. Unsurprisingly, Baby Keem appears once again on the album, as a feature on “Savior” with Sam Dew. Keem does, however, boast production and writing credits on several other songs.
The album carries a number of other notable features and collaborations including Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah on “Purple Hearts,” Portishead’s Beth Gibbons on “Mother I Sober,” a surprise from actress and dancer Taylor Paige on “We Cry Together” and production credits from Pharrell on “Mr. Morale.”
In mid April Kendrick announced via a tweet to a fan that Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers was set to drop in May, by linking to his Oklama website. On the same website Kendrick put out a letter titled “nu thoughts” dated for August 2021. In it he addressed his thoughts as he was building this album as well as his spiritual process that has brought him to this point.
“I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts. Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence,” he wrote, “As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years. The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood.”
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is available now across all streaming platforms.
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