OK. It’s here. It’s time. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. Let’s do this.
There was always going to be an incredible amount of hype for the first proper Kendrick Lamar album in five years — the first since his commercially triumphant, Pulitzer Prize-winning power move DAMN. Even so, K.Dot has stoked the flames of enthusiasm to extremes with his less-is-more promo campaign. The world has not yet heard a note of music from Kendrick’s new project, but even the tiniest slivers of information have all served to stoke curiosity.
First there was the news last summer that this would be his last album for Top Dawg Entertainment. Then, more recently, the reveal of the eyebrow-raising title and release date. Then the implication that Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers would be a double album — and maybe a book? Then the incredible appetizer “The Heart Part 5,” with its spacious production, dense wordplay, and thought-provoking deepfake video. Finally, yesterday, with just over 24 hours to go, the cover art went online: a photograph of Kendrick wearing a crown of thorns with a gun nestled into his waistband, overlooking his fiancée Whitney Alford and their two young children. (The existence of a second baby was news to most of us.)
After all that, the anticipation is so breathless that we’ve almost suffocated. It’s time to exhale. The album is here.
The two-disc venture totals 18 tracks (with nine cuts apiece). Featured players include Sampha on “Father Time,” Blxst and Amanda Reifer on “Die Hard,” Taylour Paige on “We Cry Together,” Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah on “Purple Hearts,” Kodak Black on “Silent Hill,” Baby Keem and Sam Dew on “Savior,” Tanna Leone on “Mr. Morale,” and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons on “Mother I Sober.” Pharrell Williams, the Alchemist, Sounwave, Boi-1da, Beach Noise, Duval Timothy, DJ Dahi, DJ Khalil, J.LBS, and others have production credits throughout. Thundercat plays bass on two tracks (“Die Hard” and “Mother I Sober”).
We’ve all waited a long time for this, so let’s dive in together and convene in the comments section for a good long talk about what is hopefully a great long album.
DISC 1: BIG STEPPERS
01 “In Grief”
03 “Worldwide Steppers”
04 “Die Hard” Feat. Blxst & Amanda Reifer
05 “Father Time” Feat. Sampha
06 “Rich” (Interlude)
07 “Rich Spirit”
08 “We Cry Together” Feat. Taylour Paige
09 “Purple Hearts” Feat. Summer Walker & Ghostface Killah
DISC 2: MR. MORALE
01 “Count Me Out”
03 “Silent Hill” Feat. Kodak Black
04 “Savior” (Interlude)
05 “Savior” Feat. Baby Keem & Sam Dew
06 “Auntie Diaries”
07 “Mr. Morale” Feat. Tanna Leone
08 “Mother I Sober” Feat. Beth Gibbons Of Portishead
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is out now on PGLang/Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope.