REVIEW: Kendrick Lamar’s new album is what old fans anticipated—and more

Kendrick+Lamar+performs+Money+Trees+during+the+Yeezus+tour.

Zfigueroan via Wikipedia Commons

Kendrick Lamar performs “Money Trees” during the Yeezus tour.

Parker Paulson, News Editor

“I’ve been going through something,” Kendrick Lamar utters as he begins his next debut album: “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.” “One-thousand eight hundred and fifty-five days, I’ve been going through something.”

Five years after Lamar’s previous album “DAMN,” the rapper reemerged from his music drought with an artistic album that pleased millions of listeners. With the release of his new album, some Lamar stans were incredibly excited. Other listeners, however, worried that his newest album would not live up to the bar that was set so high by the rapper’s last albums. Lamar did not miss a beat from his smooth lyrics and catchy beats that fans have loved for decades.

Senior Kris Basnet acknowledged Lamar’s influence on the rap genre but is unsure whether the new release is a game changer for the rap industry. “It’s been over five years since he dropped his last album, and that long period of anticipated high expectations didn’t meet the mark for many listeners,” he said.

Lamar’s second track on the album, “N95,” criticized timely political issues such as COVID, stock market problems and even the president. “The world in a panic, the women is stranded, the men on a run,/The prophets abandoned, the law take advantage, the market is crashin’,” Lamar stated as he rapprf through the aggressive and most listened to song on the album. Lamar later goes on to criticize hypocrites who are vocal on racism and oppression but who never act upon changing things for the better.

“We Cry Together” is a song in the middle of the album that illustrates an argument between Lamar and the featured artist Taylour Paige. The argument is heated, and as a listener, it is incredibly hard to listen to at points. “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” has lots of highs and peppy beats, yet this track sits like a rock at the bottom of a swimming pool. With art and rap being such subjective mediums, the track creates a dichotomy between the front that Lamar puts on at the beginning of his album between the true feelings he has near the end of the album. 

Compared to the track “N95” when Lamar stated, “I’m done being sensitive, takin’ it personal, done with the black and white, the wrong and right,” on track 17 called “Mother I Sober,” Lamar shows a different side. He is not always ready to accept his feelings and move on. “I’m sensitive, I feel everything, I feel everybody,” he remarked as he transitioned into one of his most heartfelt songs on the album.

Music, especially rap, is a medium where artists have the freedom to express their feelings and emotions towards life. Lamar is an expert at this as he is able to write deep and thought provoking lyrics about life while still keeping the music interesting. English teacher Lynne Lundberg has often analyzed his work and is a big fan of the rapper’s music.

“I have always had respect for Lamar’s lyrics. He does a great job of blending his lyrics with acknowledgement of being brought up in Compton while also using older stylistic devices in order to make his lyrics meaningful to the listener,” she said.

Whether people enjoy the album or not, there is no doubt whether Lamar’s new album will go down as yet another album with smooth rhymes, beats and deeper commentary about the world Americans live in today. With “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” being Lamar’s last album with label TDE, fans wonder when they will see the next move from the famed rapper.