DAMN was the first non-jazz or classical record of winning the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2017. The project covered many topics, including racism, gun violence, and more. In addition, in his recent solo album, Kendrick Lamar covers topics of recurring pain and the lives of ethnic and social patterns.
On the late project Mr. Morale & the Big Stepper, the opening track states a 1,855-day wait before releasing an album. This project would be his fifth studio album. The May 13 album was released through PGLang, Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment, and Interscope Records.
The double album serves as his last project with Top Dawg Entertainment.
Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) is an independent record label launched in 2004. Eleven artists are signed to the brand, including Schoolboy Q, SZA, SiR, and Kendrick.
Last August, the California artist revealed he was in the process of creating his final album for the label. The rapper shared to Instagram with a post of a desktop folder labeled “nu thoughts” and a link to a his website. The album mixes boom-bap, jazz, and keys elements as Kendrick reunites with producers Sounwave, DJ Dahi, J.LBS, and Bekon. In addition, the album features numerous contributions from songwriter Sam Dew. The album had the perfect production team, including Beach Noise, bassist Thundercat, pianist Duval Timothy, and many more. On the body of work, you can find the voices of Sampha, Kodak Black, Ghostface Killah, Florence Welch, Beth Gibbons of Portishead, Baby Keem, and author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle on some of the tracks.
Mr. Morale & the Big Stepper is received as a deep look at self as it relates to the public in many ways. Kendricks’s latest body of work deems a reach for positivity and Perspectives.
Songs That You Must Not Miss
Kendrick Tells US To Be Real In N95
In this song, Kendrick talks to the new world as we come out of covid. During the pandemic, we got used to being inside. It leads social media to be overused so much. and has made everything so shallow.
Hello new world, all the boys and girls
I got some true stories to tell
You’re back outside, but they still lied
The repeated use of “take off” in his song encourages people to live their real life and not what social media is selling to them.
Take off the foo-foo, take off the clout chase, take off the Wi-Fi
Take off the money phone, take off the car loan, take off the flex, and the white lies.
Worldwide Steppers: The Awakening Of Kendrick
Worldwide Steppers is the third song on Lamar’s fifth studio album, with a brief appearance by Kodak Black. The record begins with Kodak’s voice as he says,
“Kodak Black, Oklama
And this here is the big stepper.”
Oklama is the name of Kendrick’s website; the word’s meaning would later be discovered as another word for “my people.”
Eckhart Tolle is a German author known for his book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. One of my favorite books covers the philosophy of being. It’s crazy because I deem this song, in particular, “the awakening of kendrick.”
The chorus reads:
“I’m a killer, he’s a killer, she’s a killer, bitch
We some killers, walkin’ zombies, tryna scratch that itch
Germophobic, hetero and—”
I would like to share what I read on Genius.com to explain the chorus better. “Kendrick comments on the nature of cancel culture, implying everyone, including himself, is conditioned to denounce others to scratch the itch of feeling superior. In the process, this disables the existence of those deemed ‘unclean’ in some sense. But, of course, there will always be someone who is able to point out some flaw in your being.”
I didn’t comprehend the chorus but reading this made me understand where K.dot was coming from after researching.
Kendrick also explains why he has been missing in action as he raps.
“Writer’s block for two years, nothin’ moved me.
Asked God to speak through me; that’s what you hear now
The voice of yours truly.”
During his time away, he has raised two kids and struggled with “writer’s block.”
The most jaw-dropping comment was him recalling sexual encounters with white women, believing his ancestors would shame him for these relationships, and revealing that his companion, Whitney Alford, questioned his preferences.
Kendrick takes us through a journey through his mind and self-realization in this song.
Father Time: Daddy Issues
Kendrick speaks on how his daddy issues made him who he is in this song. The song covers toxic masculinity and characteristics learned from one’s environment.
Sampha is on the chorus as he sings,
“Early mornin’ wake-ups (Ah), practicin’ on day-offs (Ah, day-offs)
Tough love (Ah), bottled up, no chaser (Ah)
Neat, no chaser (Ah), neat, no chaser (Ah)
Neat, no chaser (Ah), neat, no chaser.”
Die Hard: “I wanna see the family stronger I wanna see the money longer.”Die hard track number 4
Rich Interlude: Kodak Black Gets Poetic
Kodak gets poetic in Rich Interlude. He discusses the obstacles he encountered on his journey to success. In many words, the Florida rapper expresses his fear of his past catching up to him. A personal look into his life in the past.
Most of the people that you grew up with are now in the chain gang
In the box, gettin’ pink
Niggas shittin’ where you sleep
Niggas shittin’ where you eat
In particular, Kodak refers to a chain gang as a prison club in these verses. He expresses the discomfort in prison through spoken word.
We Cry Together: Art
On the track “We Cry Together,” Kendrick and Taylour Paige are reenacting an unattractive couple’s quarrel as they yell insults back and forth. I call it art just because the way the song was pure emotions.
Auntie Diaries: Understanding The Trans Community
“Auntie Diaries” is the sixth track on the album. Kendrick raps about two transgender people in his life. He critiqued himself and society on the views on the trans community.
“My auntie is a man now
I think I’m old enough to understand now
Drinking Paul Masson with her hat turned backwards
Back when it was comedic relief to say, “Faggot”
Faggot, faggot, faggot, we ain’t know no better
Elementary kids with no filter, however
My auntie became a man and I took pride in it
She wasn’t gay, she ate pussy, and that was the difference
That’s what I told my friends in second grade
She picking me up from school, they stare at her in the face
They couldn’t comprehend what I grew accustomed”
Symbolic Cover Art