Wow, just wow. It feels like an eternity since we’ve heard from Kung-Fu Kenny and I for one am glad he’s back. On May 13th we were graced with the release of Kendrick Lamar’s fifth and final album with TDE. “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” is an album filled with existentialism and lyrics going into generational trauma and its effects. The best way to show that off is with the first thing K.Dot says:
“I’ve been goin’ through somethin’,
One-thousand eight-hundred and fifty-five days,
I’ve been goin’ through somethin’”
Now, I won’t be doing a song-by-song breakdown like I did with Camila Cabello. If I did, you’d be scrolling forever and we would only have made it to the half-way mark. Instead, what I’ll do is give you my thoughts on the themes, its compositions, flow, and lyrics. Y’know, like a…
Kendrick Lamar is practically synonymous with the phrase “pen and pad.” He’s a man who through his music expresses himself, his issues, life, and trauma all for the listener to experience. From the backseat POV of good kid to the third-person of DAMN. Morale blends both in a wonderful perspective. Originally teased with the opening line in The Heart Part 5, life is indeed perspective.
We listen to the lessons Kendrick has learned in his years. From the errors of his father’s teachings wrapped in a blanket of appreciation. The exposure of those who project an image and are ugly as fuck underneath. To the dismissal of toxic upbringings and environments to understand what is right and wrong. Tackling rich and personal themes with the flow that is uniquely Kendrick Lamar. Oozing professionalism, sincerity, and perfect cadence.
While I can bring up a dissect to just how good it is, I’d rather just keep it to five. These are…
- “Father Time” is a song about the aforementioned errors of his father’s teachings. Going into specific examples like him knowing that he can’t cry in front of his father. Teachings like how he can only truly trust his mother and him, no one else. And how he understands now, through therapy and self-isolation/preservation that there was toxicity in those teachings. He wishes to break the cycle for himself and his children.
- “N95” goes into the true nature of people underneath all the masks. With an intense melody, there’s a huge disdain for the lack of legitimate honesty. Taking shots on everyone and the nature of groups who think they’re the only ones that matter. It’s a track that exudes the legitimacy the music industry continuously needs.
- Dealing with an aspect of Kendrick’s upbringing. “Auntie Diaries” is the story of Kendrick’s transgender aunt and all the impact that had on him. He uses this as a way to criticize himself, society, and the church on how they view and treat LGBT people. This isn’t to garner attention, it’s to share truths.
- For Kendrick Lamar in “Rich Spirit,” life without toxic consumption of social media has allowed him to have a more peaceful and spiritual life. This is as chill of a Kendrick song as I can think of. Which, honestly, fits perfectly in with the rest.
- The cycle is broken in “Mother I Sober.” He addresses his trauma heads-on. Addressing his mother’s experience with sexual abuse and his own addiction to lust. Silently delivering each line until the end. Proudly exclaiming his new found change through communication and positivity. Reflecting Kendrick himself at the beginning of the journey. Through pain, through suffering, and introspection, Kendrick Lamar has been able to be greater.
This all leads to…
I don’t know whether Kendrick Lamar will come back to music after this. What is certain is that if this is the end of his impact as an artist it’s a fitting one. This is as clear as day in the single release of The Heart Part 5. Fitting prelude. The truth behind Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is to be a meaningful impact is to look inside one’s self and seek growth. To learn from the pain and mistakes of your elders, your community, and your home. Understand that through it all, there is indeed love whether yours or from others. To take the greatest leap is to acknowledge where you’ve fallen and how you’ve been tripped.
Kendrick Lamar’s ode to life and potential bookend to his career is beautiful and introspective. It’s soaked in the intense desire to be greater for yourself and others. Now, enough of me talking about it. Go and listen to it yourself!