Many Kendrick Lamar enthusiasts will be waiting until the clock strikes midnight to get their first listen to his highly anticipated album “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.”
The Compton-born rapper’s fifth studio album (released Friday) has been mostly under wraps, with cover art released just over 24 hours before release (hinting he could be a father of two by now) and no advanced feed is offered to journalists. But a few details emerged: it will be his last album with his label Top Dawg Entertainment, it will be accompanied by a mysterious new alter ego, Oklama, and the album’s first single, “The Heart Part 5”, is in line with the news. and poignant messages from his old hits as he takes on the identities of Will Smith, OJ Simpson and more.
“I feel joy to have been part of such a cultural imprint,” Lamar said on his website in August, referencing Top Dawg and using the pseudonym Oklama. “May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.”
Half-time show report:Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Snoop, Dre, Kendrick Lamar prove fiery mix at Super Bowl halftime
Music critics and hip-hop enthusiasts will be eager to get their thumbs up on what K.Dot or King Kendrick or Kung Fu Kenny has up his sleeve for his next musical era, or his “call of life,” but until then, they can only rely on what Lamar, 34, has previously posted.
Here’s a look at the projects that made the rapper a 14-time Grammy winner:
Kendrick Lamar introduced “Section .80” as his “warm-up” lyrical journal
Lamar’s debut followed several widely released mixtapes, releasing 2011’s “Section .80” as a well-received iTunes exclusive.
The jazzy yet punk rock album, which lasted just under an hour, was based primarily on Lamar and his thoughts on his Compton surroundings. Many verses explore how being born in the 80s affected the life course of one’s peers.
Lamar did not consider the 15-track project an album, but instead called it’s a “warm-up”, using “Section .80” as a lyrical journal for its observations on religion, drug use and insecurity.
‘Slim.’:Kendrick Lamar wins the Pulitzer Prize for Music
“‘Section .80’ was more about the people, my debut album will be more about me. I know what to do and what to talk about, so there’s really no pressure,” Lamar told Billboard two months after its release. Release.
‘Good Kid, mAAd city’ follows Kendrick Lamar’s evolution from Compton teenager to ‘king’
Lamar stayed true to his promise to create an album “more about” him, introducing listeners to a teenage version of himself in 2012’s “Good Kid, mAAd City.”
The double cover of the narrative album features a Polaroid of young Lamar sitting with male family members and its bonus cover depicts his family van, which is referenced throughout, as he borrows it to spend time with. friends and pursuing a love interest.
“Good Kid” follows teenage Lamar as he balances virginity, peer pressure, street violence and nagging voicemails from his parents: “Kendrick, just get my car back.”
Lamar’s friends refer to him as K.Dot throughout the album as he navigates the dangers of passing driving, drugs and alcohol use in “The Art of Peer Pressure” and ” Swimming Pools (Drank)” until he finally stumbles to salvation in “Sing About Me, I’m Thirsty.”
At the end of the album, Lamar’s fame comes to fruition in “Compton” when he is joined by hometown legend Dr. Dre. The young teenager who was once K.Dot once again comes across as a fully realized 25-year-old star: “King Kendrick Lamar.”
The title was sealed when he entered the Grammy Awards with seven nominations that year, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
“I knew one day I would be in this position, and I wanted to tell different stories coming from downtown,” Lamar told USA TODAY in 2012’s “Good Kid.” “Especially about young kids trying their best to stay away from the gang experience.”
‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ Reinforces Kendrick Lamar’s Socially Responsible Writing
After a few years of Lamar’s silence, he returned with a surprise Funkadelic-influenced jazz and soul album that solidified the rapper’s socially conscious style with themes of temptation, fame, colorism and incarceration within the black community.
The album cover features shirtless black men and young boys flexing chains and stacks of cash in front of the White House while stepping on a white politician (who may be Ronald Reagan, often mentioned in the earlier songs of the rapper on the disappearance of the 80s).
Throughout the album, bits of poetry describe Lamar’s “survivor’s remorse” for leaving Compton. While most of “Butterfly” is weighty, the project also includes his chilling yet uplifting “Alright” and self-love single “i.”
“It’s for hip hop,” Lamar said on his best rap album of 2016 Grammy acceptance speech before naming the greatest before him. “We will live forever, believe it. Okay?”
‘SLIM.’ celebrates Lamar’s rap mastery juxtaposed with his fictionalized death
The last full album Lamar gave fans was 2017’s “Damn,” which includes one-word songs stylistically similar to its title: “Blood,” “DNA,” “Element,” and Rihanna-enhanced “Loyalty.”
After the dark jazz and funky educational feel of “Butterfly”, “DAMN”. came with a much more upbeat exploration of his relationships with his family, neighborhood, and other rappers, while tackling the specter of death. The first song, “Blood”, ends with Lamar being slaughtered.
” DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar:Instant track-by-track review
In “DAMN. Lamar also introduces a new ego for himself: Kung Fu Kenny, whom Complex he said was “a master of the art” of songwriting and music in 2017.
Not just “DAMN”. winning five Grammys, it won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for being “a collection of virtuoso songs unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism…capturing the complexity of modern African-American life”.
“SLIM.” ends with “Duckworth.”, which tells a true story of how the CEO of Top Dawg Entertainment once planned to rob a KFC where Lamar’s father worked and decided to spare his life.
Lamar raps at the end before a gunshot rings out: “Because if Anthony (Tiffith) killed Ducky (Kenny Duckworth), Top Dawg could serve life, as I grew up without a father and I’m dying in a shootout.”
Does ‘Mr. Morality allows Lamar to live after a fictional death?
Leaving the last disc with the idea of Lamar dead makes room for “Mr. Morale” to be reclaimed in the afterlife. Lamar writes from an otherworldly place, alluding to completion and separation from the rest of the world as a celestial body.
“Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I have been praying for you all,” Lamar wrote on his Oklama website. “See you soon.”
On the cover of the “Mr. Morale” album, Lamar wears a Jesus-like crown of thorns, with a baby in his arms and a handgun in his belt. In his single “The Heart Part 5”, he praises the late rapper Nipsey Hussle while taking on his character in the music video., send a final message to his loved ones in the final verse.
“To my brother, to my kids, I’m in heaven / To my mom, to my sister, I’m in heaven / To my dad, to my wife, I’m serious, this is heaven,” Lamar raps. “And to the killer who hastened my death, I forgive you, just know that your soul is in question.”
In “Mr. Morale,” perhaps fans can expect a savior-like Lamar: Oklama.
Contributors: Patrick Ryan and Maeve McDermott