Kendrick Lamar
Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jack Mancuso CONTRIBUTOR (74 Reviews)
May 13th, 2022 | 1204 replies


Release Date: 05/13/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 1,855 days, I been goin thru somethin

The opening 20 seconds of any Kendrick album will tell you everything you need to know. Whether it’s the resigned desperation of the Sinner’s Prayer or a triumphantly proud Boris Gardiner sample, K.Dot has never been one to obscure his thematic intention. DAMN introduced itself with a haunting series of existential questions; “Is it wickedness? Is it weakness? You decide, are we gonna live or die?” In the five years of (mostly) radio silence since then, we’ve all carried on living, but it’s only become more burdensome; we’ve all spent our time in the darkness and we all need a miracle.

I hope you find some peace of mind in this lifetime / I hope you find some paradise

It was always a given that paradise, some form of blissful escape, was real and promised. Fantasies of lighting a joint in the Oval Office, becoming the hometown hero, ascending to the top of the game, declaring victory over the past. It’s all for nothing. The ghosts continue to haunt and the wounds continue to fester. He just grieves different now. The vicious echoes of trauma possess Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers from the moment the curtain lifts, and it plays how trauma feels; visceral, occasionally unfocused, and unmoored to any sort of time. “Worldwide Steppers” sees us dragged across time and space to different instances of Kendrick’s addiction and infidelity, creating a dizzying feeling of being watched by some all-seeing eye. The two childhood-themed cuts, “Father Time” and “Mother I Sober”, are immediate standouts not only due to their immaculate production, but their daring and brazen examinations of mental health, psychological dependence, and generational pain. He truly holds nothing back here and the results speak for themselves.

While this creative ethos is what gives Mr. Morale most of its positive qualities, it is also what erodes at its foundation and causes a handful of bumps in the road. Much will be said about the puzzling “Auntie Diaries”, and very little of it will be constructive; I appreciate Kendrick’s willingness to be vulnerable as an artist, but the decision to release this one is a rare instance in which his finger is nowhere near the cultural pulse. “We Cry Together” takes a wonderful sketch for a 2-minute interlude and stretches it out to about 6, while “Silent Hill” observes Kendrick’s incomparable flows and layered production and utilizes neither of them, culminating in Kodak Black somehow walking away with the superior verse. It’s an imperfect album with notable and glaring missteps, and this will not go unnoticed, given the 5-year waiting period and Kendrick’s eagerness to crown himself.

In spite of these imperfections, I believe Mr. Morale remains an improvement over the solid, yet stagnant DAMN, and it marks the return of our most important MC into a world none of us would have recognized the last time he released music. It’s a wounded, disoriented record, leaving all of its baggage at your front doorstep, indifferent to your reaction. Anything for some peace of mind.



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user ratings (420)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
MiloRuggles STAFF (3.3)
My brain hurts a lot...

TheGlowingWeen (4.5)
Kendrick Lamar crafts an unruly and challenging masterpiece that encourages us to be better....

thatdeftkid (4.5)
Kendrick Lamar bares all: his flaws, perceptions, emotions, struggles with fame, and most importantl...



Comments:Add a Comment 
YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2022


16168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

staff will likely post a superior review soon, but we needed a thread and i had some thots

Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

Odal
May 13th 2022


972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Solid review for how early it is. Album is incredible. Auntie Diaries has to be on my short list for songs of the year. Talk about meeting the moment with that one lol





ReefaJones
May 13th 2022


2480 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Weak

glorybox94
May 13th 2022


1056 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the hooks to me are the weakest thing about the album. solid but could have used a slight trimming.

Wildcardbitchesss
May 13th 2022


6569 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mother I Sober got me in the feels man. Only spun this once last night and some in the car this morning but damn this is some good shit

Digging: Gospel - The Loser

ZoddHand
May 13th 2022


57 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The middle R+B songs are sooooo boring

migueldemolina
May 13th 2022


12 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I feel like this is one of those albums that should have been trimmed the hell down. Crown, auntie diaries, mother I sober, we cry together are really memorable, but some of the other tracks are just forgettable.



Might need like 10 more listens to finally settle on the score.

ZoddHand
May 13th 2022


57 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah miguel typical double album problems

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2022


16168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

TPAB is longer which I think is hilarious

Meborphus
May 13th 2022


26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Solid review, and I'm on the same page.



Feels a bit too tame in the middle stretch, but the first five and last five tracks are all fantastic.

butt.
May 13th 2022


9821 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Now that the nerve-wracking first listen is through, I feel like I’m able to sit back and enjoy this a lot more the second time around. There’s still definitely 3-4 throwaway tracks but the good very much outweighs the bad here

Odal
May 13th 2022


972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm gonna be getting drunk this weekend and do the pew pew noises

Tunaboy45
May 13th 2022


18055 Comments


discourse time

Marxman
May 13th 2022


70 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

There's a *lot* of filler on this thing, as with all double albums. Still trying to settle on a final score, but this is easily his worst record as a whole imo.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2022


46378 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

man i miss the days when he could balance form and content perfectly on shit like Peer Pressure and Cartoon & Cereal. it's like now he can only do one or the other and the bangers are increasingly generic and the Deep Songs are clumsy and hamfisted



tldr get Bono back on another hook kenneth

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2022


58607 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

Should have known we were in trouble when that awful album cover first dropped

AlexKzillion
May 13th 2022


13806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Think the first five tracks are solid but it just takes a nosedive after the kodak interlude

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2022


16168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

kenneth

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2022


46378 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

laughing to the bank like AAAA HAAAA

Lord(e)Po)))ts
May 13th 2022


68764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

These low ratings are making me excited 😂😂



Listening now



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