Kendrick Lamar drops new album for the first time in half a decade

Critically acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar released his new album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, announcing his triumphant return after a five-year hiatus. The anticipation for the release has been at an all-time high since his Super Bowl XLVII performance, and it has since made a lasting impression on the rap community and his fans.

Kendrick announced the arrival of his album with a press release featuring the letterhead of his company pgLang, and signed with his Oklama moniker. The letter stated: 

“The following statement was released today by Oklama through his company pgLang at 11 a.m. PT in Los Angeles CA: Album: Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.’ Release date: 5/13/2022. All factual information for this release will come directly from this source only.” 

The album is also a monumental step in’s career, as it was his last album with Top Dawg Entertainment. After Kendrick revealed that this will be his last album with the label, Top Dawg shared an open letter expressing how much of an “honor and privilege” it had been working with Kendrick for nearly two decades. 

Kendrick expressed how his new project would be influenced by his personal experiences.

“Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family,” he wrote on his official website oklama. “While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next.”

His personification of characters and use of distinct cadences, beats, and wordplay has led him to not only being the only rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize, but also considered to be one of the greatest lyricists in the modern rap era. 

Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers takes the trademark elements Lamar utilizes a step further. Every track from “United in Grief” to “Mirror” depicts a deep introspection into Lamar’s character and state of mind. His storytelling and narration throughout each song seek to highlight his insecurities, beliefs, and sense of self. His fear of being defined by his trauma and shame is prevalent throughout, but by the end, he’s spent the entirety of the album burning the effigy of “me” and never settles on one particular character in his quest for self-affirmation and acceptance. 

Rachel Cheung, a student and avid Kendrick listener from Rockville High School details his experiences with Kendrick’s new album.

“Kendrick’s album is a journey through his experiences and state of mind. Every track is executed in its own unique way and I think that it narrates his life beautifully.” Cheung said. “Even though I don’t enjoy some of the tracks on the album as much as the others, each is integral in building the characters Kendrick is trying to create. It was well worth the wait!”

The public seems to have similar reception to Cheung’s on the day his album was released, streaming services crashed when users tried to listen due to the overwhelming amount of listeners accessing the websites. Kendrick Lamar charts all 18 songs from his new album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers on the Billboard Hot 100 with 295,500 equivalent album units earned, according to Luminate – the biggest weekly total for an album this year.