Kendrick Krazy II | Kyle Kim
Depending on who you ask, five years is an incredibly long time. Especially for some of our freshmen and sophomores, where five years makes up more than a third of their lives, it's undeniable such a prolonged period of time allows for massive personal development and growth. However, a group of people that perhaps most severely experienced the eternity that is half a decade are Kendrick Lamar fans, who haven’t noticed a public appearance out of K.Dot, much less any music, since the release of DAMN. in 2017. It’s a harsh reality – we’ve experienced a full presidential administration, a global pandemic, an economic recession, the brewings of World War III, and unprecedented technological developments before Kendrick Lamar released a piece of music with his name attached to it.
Luckily, it seems like this is all going to change on May 13, as Lamar has set this as the release date for his new album, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. The anticipation for this album is already reaching maximum heights, as the perfect storm of personal mystery from Lamar, extended time away from the limelight, and previous musical achievements have combined to create the potential for a record-breaking release. With all of this in mind, I’d like to lay out some hopes and anticipations for this new release.
First, and perhaps most obviously, I expect Lamar to touch upon the nature of the Black experience in America since the release of his previous album. The politically-charged themes of his previous albums, which touched upon police brutality, gang violence, racist media outlets, and his own personal experiences being Black, have been a staple of his conscious message, and there are a variety of different global events for Lamar to reflect upon since 2017. I most anticipate bars about the murder of George Floyd, performative activism with the BLM movement, poverty resulting from COVID-19, and perhaps even mentions of Trump and Biden.
On a lighter note, I want to see more information provided on his new label, pgLang, sprinkled throughout the album. Lamar, who has been signed to Top Dawg Entertainment since 2004, has finally made the decision to break free from his existing label and formed a new company to publish his music, artwork, and media. I could see an interesting story being told in a song about the work that went into the creation of the company, as well as any struggles that Lamar experienced as a result of this massive change.
Lamar might also delve into a discussion of his contemporaries, both positively and negatively. While Lamar’s solo work is generally more focused on difficult and pressing issues, he’s also known to call out the occasional rapper once in a while. I think it would be interesting to see some discussion from K.Dot on fellow artists like Baby Keem, whose career was essentially kickstarted by Lamar in 2021, Dave Free, his partner-in-crime for pgLang, and his labelmates at TDE like SZA, ScHoolboy Q, and Top Dawg, among others.
All in all, Kendrick Lamar’s new release seeks to continue his impressive legacy in music, live up to massive fan expectations, and cement Lamar as one of hip-hop’s greatest artists. While it’s impossible to know what Lamar has in store, it’s difficult not to hope that these five years of work, practice, and growth have left one of the greatest albums of all time in store.