Kendrick Lamar is one of a handful of rappers who rightfully claim the title of GOAT in hip hop.
He’s a brilliant wordsmith, deep storyteller, and bona fide hitmaker when so inclined. He’s at the point of reverence where his peers, fans, and tastemakers talk about him like he’s from another planet.
He’s now back, five years after his critically acclaimed “DAMN,” and his fans couldn’t be happier.
Here are five takeaways from early listens to “Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers.
Kendrick Lamar’s music is always an event
It’s been half a decade since Kendrick Lamar’s last album, and the landscape of hip hop (and music generally) was extraordinarily different then. The genre continued to move away from conscious rap and emphasized production in a major way. Anyway, Kendrick Lamar’s album attracted so many people that he blocked his page on Spotify and Apple Music.
For some people, the page wouldn’t even load Apple Music and they were forced to watch their friends enjoy Spotify.
You can count on one hand how many artists create an event when they release their music and Kendrick Lamar is one of them.
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Kendrick Lamar is a volunteer contributor.
All great artists are able to notice their shortcomings and bring in others to fill them in, which is why Kendrick had Drake on “Poetic Justice” and Zacari on “Love.”
Sampha, Blxst, Amanda Reifer, Summer Walker, Ghostface Killah are among the long list of features of “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”, but there are no TDE artists.
“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is Lamar’s latest album with the TDE label that helped him grow from an up-and-coming artist to the GOAT-level artist he is today, so this is a bit of a surprise.
There’s no SZA slowdown, no ScHoolboy Q “YAWK YAWK YAWK” ad-libs, and no Black Hippy send. So far, there hasn’t been any public animosity between Kendrick and the label or any of his labelmates, but excluding them from his final project is a curious move.
Black Trauma is front and center
Kendrick Lamar “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is available now: https://KendrickLamar.lnk.to/MrMonale
Kendrick Lamar’s understanding of black trauma has only grown throughout his career and has been a constant throughout his music.
“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is no exception, his most important songs being of this nature. Notably “Father Time” featuring Sampha where Lamar breaks down the issues people of his generation have with their father or their absence due to gang affiliation.
Another track is “We Cry Together” in which Lamar and Taylour Paige rap to beautifully illustrate a toxic relationship in which a couple hurls vicious insults at each other.
‘Auntie Diaries’ is Kendrick Lamar’s most controversial song
While Kendrick Lamar isn’t afraid to tackle tough topics on his projects, “Auntie Diaries” has established itself as one of the most controversial. “Auntie Diaries” is a track about a character who has two trans family members.
The song delves into the character’s upbringing as well as her emotions and relationship to an environment that isn’t necessarily trans-friendly. The song is insightful in many ways, but Kendrick Lamar’s choice of language has angered many.
While it shines a light on how Kendrick acted when he portrayed in the song, his use of a homophobic slur and his trans uncle’s dishonesty are mostly misguided. The track sparked a backlash on Twitter.
Backxwash, a Polaris Prize-winning rapper from Montreal, also weighed in on the matter, with disappointment.
“The Heart Part 5” is not on the album
Kendrick Lamar “The Heart, Part 5”
Although the song was a single used to promote the album, “The Heart Part 5” is not on “Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers.
“The Heart Part 5” fits into the concept of the album, focusing on influential black people, and its sprawling production style matches the album, but it is not part of the double album escapade of Lamar.
It’s not out of the norm, as “The Heart Part 1” was a loosie in Kendrick’s debut and “The Heart Part 3” was released days before the legendary “good kid, mAd city”, but was also left from the project too.
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