*Register here for the Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers listening party*
Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is Kendrick Lamar’s fifth studio album, released via PGLang, Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment, and Interscope Records. It’s Lamar’s first full-length album since the soundtrack to Black Panther, and his first solo studio album since Damn. The double album is his final collaboration with Top Dawg.
Sounwave, J.LBS, DJ Dahi, Bekon, Beach Noise, and pianist Duval Timothy all contributed to the album’s production; other producers include Boi-1da, Baby Keem, Jahann Sweet, The Donuts, Tae Beast, The Alchemist, and Pharrell Williams.
The CDs feature Portishead’s Sampha and Beth Gibbons as singers. Rappers Kodak Black, Ghostface Killah, Baby Keem, actor Taylour Paige, Tanna Leone, and Cover Drive plus singers Summer Walker, Blxst, Sam Dew, and Amanda Reifer are among the other featured vocalists.
Tracks were also supplied by Thundercat, Tommy Paxton-Beesley, and Homer Steinweiss. Mr. Morale is narrated by spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle, while Big Steppers is told by Whitney Aflord, Lamar’s wife.
Listen to Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers
In a blog post on August 20, 2021, Lamar announced that he was in the process of producing his final album under the Top Dawg Entertainment label, writing:
“I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts. Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence. I go months without a phone. Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family …. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling. There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I’ve prayed for you all. See you soon enough.”
As a teaser for Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, Lamar dropped a new music video called “The Heart Part 5” on Sunday. It begins with a spoken prologue that states “life is perspective,” before showing Lamar’s face fusing with the faces of a series of Black men with varied degrees of cultural heroes or controversy: O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle.
Deep Voodoo, the firm founded by “South Park” founders Trey Parker and Matt Stone, created the deep fake effects and is working on other projects with pgLang, a new company launched by Lamar and Dave Free, a longstanding collaborator. Listen to Mr Morale and the Big Steppers here:
The Listening Party
The Listening Party for Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers will start at 8pm CST and participants can register here. We expect that everyone will have listened to the album at least once before the party because WE WILL NOT be listening to the album in its entirety during the party. During the beginning of the Party, participants will be able to vote for their favorite songs on the album and we will select 5 to discuss later in the party. The agenda for the listening party will be as follows:
- Introductions [8:00 – 8:15]
- Discussion around who is Mr. Morale and who are the Big Steppers? [8:15 – 8:30]
- Discussion on top 5 tracks on the album from first weekend review [8:30 – 9:15]
- Kickback [9:15+]
Whats next for Kendrick Lamar
Mr Morale and the Big Steppers was his final album for Top Dawg Entertainment, which has distributed his songs in collaboration with Interscope from the beginning of his career. He hasn’t announced a new label deal, but he has initiated new initiatives with pgLang, a “multilingual, at service company” that was revealed two years ago and will collaborate on a variety of creative and commercial projects.