“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is a beautiful tale of American society

Kendrick Lamar once again proves his valuable place in hip-hop culture


“The shot is striking [—] it could also be a public debut of Lamar’s children who up until now have been entirely out of the public eye,” said okayplayer.com.

Jacob Morales, Writer

Kendrick Lamar, throughout his career, has cemented himself as arguably one of the most prolific poets and performers in hip hop culture. His profound lyricism tackles the problems in African American communities in the Compton, California area, as well as his own issues as a Black male in America.

However in Lamar’s newest studio album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, he steps back from his commentary on minority struggles, focusing instead on the American people as a whole. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is an unfiltered synopsis of Lamar’s experience with America, life and death, COVID-19, toxic internet culture, family, and emotional support. He welcomes emotional help, even with the stigmas of being a Black male.

Kendrick Lamar’s fifth studio album was released on May 13, 2022, but not before the theatrical Latin infused performance that was “The Heart Part 5”.  Lamar has been known to release additions to this series before every single one of his major studio albums, so when fans got a glimpse of the vibrant and lively lyrics, alongside the psychedelic visuals of the music video, they were off the wall. This record is a story that listeners need to experience all the way through — no skips, no interruptions. This record is set up like a book, with a prologue, chapters through his psyche, a resolution, and an epilogue.

The prologue is in the form of the first track: “United in Grief”. This track is a roller coaster of emotion with constantly changing flows and instrumentals. The entirety of the track explains the beginning of his lust addiction, and how instead of dealing with the loss happening all around him, he drowns his soul in the experience of physical lust and sex.

For the second track, titled “N95”, Lamar breaks through the gate with an explosive beat. This track tackles the COVID-19 outbreak that swept the world, diving into how pit has affected our view of each other and the outside world. This theme is eminent with the title — N95 is a medical face mask. He continues to rap, speaking on monetary possessions and how once that’s all gone, what do you have? The delivery on this track is an unmatched introduction to the framework of this album.

The 8th track titled “We Cry Together” is a raw, uncomfortable argument between Lamar and what is portrayed as his girlfriend. It shows “what the world sounds like”.  This five minute portrayal of an abusive relationship almost gives the feeling that you invaded something you weren’t supposed to hear. And through it all, at the very end, everything is channeled back to Lamar’s only way of coping: physical carnality. And thus this destructive cycle continues.

“Auntie Diaries”, I believe, is the most impactful in the sense of representation. This is a completely real, unfabricated glimpse of how Lamar dealt with his understanding of his aunt’s transition into a man. The instrumentals in this track are slow paced, and dream-like to combat Kendrick’s quiet lyrics. It’s split into two halves, with one side having the hook: “My auntie is a man now, I think I’m old enough to understand now,” which portrays the childlike understanding Kendrick grew into when the idea initially felt bizarre and foreign.

He also uses lyrics to signify the true ignorance he had, using targeting slurs as “comedic relief”.“Back when it was comedic relief to say [explicit]… we ain’t know no better,” sings Lamar.

However in the second half, Kendrick switches the hook to the following: “Demetrius is Maryanne now,” a complete turn around on how he initially saw his uncle to finally accepting this fact. This is a beautiful song depicting a real way on how this is dealt with in modern society.

Finally, the 18th track titled “Mirror”, is the grand final chapter to the story, with Kendrick coming to his senses and understanding that he needs to choose him before he chooses others. The instrumentals are a smashing orchestral symphony, with the chorus: “I choose me, I’m sorry, I choose me, I’m sorry.” And as with many novels, an epilogue, “The Heart Part 5”, is given to show the aftermath of the situation that is at hand.

This is a beautiful demonstration of how Lamar still has his well known spark and originality.

I would give this album an 8.5/10. If you have the time, I would highly recommend listening to this project all the way through.