REVIEW: ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’ is a touching and creative experience



Kendrick Lamar released his fifth studio album, “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” on May 13, 2022, his first solo project since 2017. Years of patience from fans paid off as Lamar dropped one of the best albums of the year. 

Creating a story is something that not many rappers can do well in the current state of rap, especially the mainstream side of the genre. Lamar is an exception to this with his exceptional storytelling skills that keep listeners engaged throughout the album. It makes his music incredibly enjoyable to listen to as audience members listen, curious as to what he’s going to share in every song. 

The messages displayed in “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” are spread throughout the album, with lots of different ideas and themes about his life. Notably on “Father Time” he talks a lot about his relationship with his family as a child, specifically his father. Lamar spoke on how his “daddy issues” created who he is today, how he was affected mentally and how this changed his ability to love. The song also showed one of the many examples of gender stereotyping on the album. He talks about his new life, specifically in the outro song “Mirror.” Lamar highlights his responsibilities and how he is still working to build his world without trying to save anyone else’s, choosing himself. 

You can also find messages throughout the song “We Cry Together,” which is jaw dropping and engaging from the beginning to the end of the song. The big picture is a verbal fight between Kendrick Lamar and Taylour Paige, who are seemingly dating in the song. It shows the different issues that the partners may have with each other and how toxic and damaging relationships can be. Looking deeper into the lyrics though, it shows specific issues each person in the relationship may have. Paige highlights how women are still not treated as equal to men in society, while Lamar displays how he feels women bring down men in relationships. It’s an emotional and touching song, and highlights issues with relationships in our current society. 

For how the album actually sounds, Lamar brought listeners a brand new sound with new flows, while returning classic voices that fans have always loved. The intro track, “United in Grief,” is a great example of this, with the opening enticing listeners into the album instantly. Lamar then enters without looking back, with the instrumental following his lyrics the whole time, matching him as the track progresses. The very next song “N95” brings lots of energy, and with lyrics made even better through ad libs and voice, it makes the song an instant highlight. The song “Savior” is also a really good listen, with Baby Keem’s feature fitting perfectly with Lamar’s tone and lyrics. This shows just one of the few moments where the chemistry between Lamar and his featured artists is great, and really helps make the album that much better. 

But the big question that the hip hop community is asking, was this album worth the five year wait? The short answer is, no. The album was spectacular, and an out-of-body experience for sure. But the issue with releasing albums like “To Pimp A Butterfly” and “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is that all of your other albums will be held to that standard, and “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” was not close to either of those projects. When removing Lamar’s standards, it is easily the rap album of the year thus far.