First musical artist to have received the Pulitzer Prize (for his album “Damn” in 2017), Kendrick Lamar is also a past master in the art of concise communication. On the oklama.com site, the rapper’s only distribution channel, there have been only three links in recent days. The first referred to a succinct two-line press release announcing the release of his new album “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” this Friday, May 13 on his label TPE (Top Dawg Entertainment). The second led to a photo where his hand was voted holding two CDs entitled “Master Copy”, suggesting a lot of material accumulated since his album “DAMN” and the soundtrack of the movie Black Panther in 2018.
18 tracks, 73 minutes
The third recalls the hiatus that the star has offered himself in recent years without giving too many details. “I went for months without a phone. I spent most of my days with fleeting thoughts while writing. And listening to music. Love, loss and grief disrupted my comfort zone. But the glimmers of God were able to express themselves through my music, my texts and my family.” These meager teasers, his fleeting appearances at halftime at the Superbowl and at Coachella (yes, in the United States, we talked about it more than the Stromae concert) as well as the first single The Heart Part 5 restarted the machine.
“Mr Morale & The Big Steppers” is therefore available since Friday, May 13. As supposed, the album is double: 73 minutes divided into eighteen titles (nine on disc 1, nine on disc 2). First big surprise: crossed by a sample of Marvin Gaye, the single The Heart Part 5, released over the weekend with a video that has already caused a lot of talk, does not appear on the album.
“Mr Morale & The Big” starts very strong with United Grief: a jazz piano, a twilight atmosphere and this accelerated, inimitable and scintillating flow. Whether it comes from samples of jazz, soul or sound banks, the piano is omnipresent on this double album. We hear him married to electro sounds on N95 and on the excellent Wordlwide on which Kendrick Lamar redraws introspective mode the course of his life. On the first album, which seduces by its diversity, Kendrick Lamar declines all his vocal palette because the man knows how to sing, simper (the ballad Purple Hearts with the featurings of the rap/r&b singer from Atlanta Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah from Wu -Tang Clan) and also be vindictive.
With Beth Gibbons of Portishead
On We Cry Together, he has a field day with actress Taylor Paige. Kendrick gives her “fuck you bitch” and “pussy”. She responds with “Fuck you nigger” and “your mama is a bitch”. The radios will be happy. Elsewhere, he feeds his subject with mysticism (Count Me Out and its female gospel choir), black empowerment and his nuanced observation of social injustices (Mr. Morale, magnificent Savior). Rich and varied in its moods, “Mr Morales & The Big Steppers” also features two ballads not far from pop (Crown with its piano and Silent Hill with its minimalist beat). They both appear on the second album which is much more laid back in its atmospheres. Big slap finally with Mother I Sober on which we find the voice of Beth Gibbons, singer of the trip-hop group from Bristol Portishead. Certainly one of the strongest moments of this double album which allows Kendrick Lamar to recover his throne. What are we going to be able to give him after a Pulitzer Prize?
What’s next? We are of course hoping for a visit to Belgium. His last appearances with us date back to 2018 (Sportpaleis Antwerp and Pukkelpop) as part of the DAMN Tour. This summer, he is headlining the Glastonbury Festival on June 22 alongside Paul McCartney and performing the following day in Milan and July 8 in Rome. With us, nothing is confirmed yet.
Kendrick Lamar, Mr Morale & The Big Steppers, Top Notch.
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Kendrick Lamar is back: what is his new double album worth?
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