Kendrick Lamar made his return to center stage this past Friday as he released his fifth studio album, “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” in what had become the most anticipated drop in the world of rap in recent memory! So, join us as we look at the album’s rollout, projected sales, and what the world thinks of the elusive Compton emcee’s latest contribution to culture after a few days of listening.
Finally! New K-dot! Kendrick fans have waited a half a decade for the coveted Compton rapper to break his musical silence. In the 5 years since his last project “DAMN” (2017), Kendrick had only publicly released a handful of features. A few for the “Black Panther” soundtrack and N.E.R.D’s “No One Ever Really Dies”. Until, in 2021 when Kendrick soft launched his return to music, appearing on his cousin Baby Keem’s hit “Family Ties”.
The Return of Kung Fu Kenny!
Kendrick officially announced his return to rap on April 18 via a tweet. After twitter user @raptalksk tweeted “Kendrick Lamar is officially retired” in mid February, Kendrick – two months later – replied with only the following link: https://oklama.com/.
The URL led to a simple website containing only a handful of buttons shaped like traditional folder icons. One button contained a memo, published by the desk of pgLang – Kendrick Lamar’s multi-disciplinary media and production company – stating the album title “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”, and its release date, 05/13/2022. The internet promptly imploded as full confirmation of a new Kendrick Lamar album hit the horizon and anticipation skyrocketed overnight,
As the time between the album’s announcement and release date grew shorter, the aforementioned website continued to post updates. On April 28th, a note from Lamar himself was posted and signed as oklama. Then, on May 3rd, the site was updated again, but this time with a picture of a well dressed person holding two CD’s. Both CD’s had “Master Copy” written on them, but one was entitled “Mr. Morales” and the other “Steppers”, revealing to fans that the album would in fact be a two-part project.
On May 8th, listeners got the first single from K-dot in years with “The Heart Part 5”, and it’s accompanying music video. As the title suggests, the single is fifth in the rapper’s “The Heart” series, and the only promotional single for the album. The track is a heartfelt soliloquy touching on gang culture, black on black violence, and most importantly, perspective. The single was met with much praise upon release, and set the stage for the release of the full project.
Welcome to Mr. Morales & The Steppers
5 long days after the release of “The Heart Part 5”, the overwhelmingly anticipated two disc album, “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” was released for the world to experience. Kendrick Lamar’s final album under Top Dawg Entertainment broke Apple Music’s record for most first day streams for an album released in 2022, and did over 90 million streams on Spotify on release day.
Current reports estimate the first week sales for MM&TBS to be between 325,000 and 350,000 album equivalent units. An incredibly strong start for the tape, but not the most Kendrick has experienced. Compared to Kenny’s last project “DAMN.”, which did 603,000 album-equivalent units, “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is only set to do about 58% of that, but its projected sales are still impressive especially considering they do not include physical sales.
Regarding the album’s subject matter, the 18-track album is split evenly, 9 tracks a side, between the two sides. The songs comprising the project use a fusion of elements from hip-hop/rap, jazz, funk, blues, and soul, as well as a number of compelling features to tell a complex story. A story that explores Kendrick’s own familial issues, infidelity, parenthood, and interactions with therapy. As well as addressing the larger topics of generational trauma, cancel culture, and gender identity all in Kendrick’s unique style.
And The Crowd Goes Wild
Now, after a short, but highly effective album rollout. An explosive midnight official album release, and a little time to process and ponder the music. An overwhelming majority of people have reached the same conclusion – Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers is a resounding success!
After filtering out the obviously biased listeners, (many of which didn’t even wait until they heard the whole album before they started tweeting out opinions) the online discussion regarding the album is one of adoration and appreciation. For the first time in recent rap memory, discourse negatively critical of the project is sparse. An especially impressive feat for a release of this magnitude.
The album quickly has become a highly admired and universally respected body of work. Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, anywhere people shared their opinions on hip-hop, fans and critics alike flocked to release glowing review after glowing review for the project.
Major entertainment news outlets rave about the album’s revolutionary, raw, and real content, as well as its masterful composition, and surprising choice of features. At present, the album has achieved a perfect 100/100 Metascore and a 9.1/10 user rating on metacritic, and in our humble opinion is an early and realistic contender for album of the year.
Soon after the release, pgLang announced Kendrick Lamar’s “The Big Steppers Tour”, an international tour with Baby Keem, starting in Oklahoma City on July 19th, and coming to a city near you! Find your tickets here!
So, what did you think of Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers!? Do you agree with the high praise the album is receiving? Or do you have a different opinion? Let us know in the comments!
Haven’t heard the album yet!? Quit Lackin! Listen to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers on streaming platforms everywhere now!