Between Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers, it’s hard to choose which side of Kendrick Lamar’s double album is better than the other. Nevertheless, a solo project from the elusive King Kendrick is finally here, as Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers has been by far the most anticipated record of 2022.
Five years since he released the Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN., he returns to the mic revealing that he’s “been going through something” on MM&TBS’ opening track — embarking on a new era while embracing the “past that won’t keep me from my best.” It’s his most personal record to date, speaking on addiction, cheating on his fiancé, personal trauma and overall sees the Compton emcee choosing himself over anything.
“I choose me, I’m sorry,” he says on the album’s reflective closer “Mirror,” asking himself why he is the way he is. It’s all therapy for Kendrick, as conversations with his fiancé about his deep-rooted issues scatter throughout the LP — battling his insecurities, flaws and even his own toxicity. “You really need some therapy,” his fiancé says on “Father Time,” as the 18-track double album not only showcases Lamar’s ability to convey clear-cut honesty with listeners, but boasts early highlights in “N95,” “Savior,” “Die Hard,” “Silent Hill,” and “Mr. Morale” that all reassert his god-given hit-making ability.
The pgLang co-founder’s fifth studio album, and last with longtime label Top Dawg Entertainment, features unexpected guest acts Summer Walker, Thundercat, Ghostface Killah, Kodak Black, Sampha, Blxst as well as pgLang’s Baby Keem and Tanna Leone. Mr. Morale’s diverse soundscape is handled by acclaimed producers in Pharrell, Boi-1da, Sounwave, Tae Beast, The Alchemist and more.
Amid MM&TBS’ release, Billboard officially reported that Kendrick’s latest effort has earned a No. 1 debut on the Billboard Top 200 — netting 295,500 first-week units. K-Dot now holds the biggest debut of the year — beating Future’s I NEVER LIKED YOU just a week after it debuted at No. 1. Lamar garners this 295K figure without any physical sales of his new album — which is a feat within itself. DAMN. sold 603,000 first-week units, while To Pimp A Butterfly (324,000) and Good Kid M.A.A.D. City (242,000) brought in closer sales to MM&TBS’ estimates.
Lamar also announced a 65-date tour that’s set to scatter the globe from July to mid-December. Sponsored by Live Nation and Amazon Music, “The Big Steppers Tour” also brings on supporting acts in pgLang’s Baby Keem and Tanna Leone. The United States leg of the tour is set to kick off July 19 in Oklahoma City and will end Sept. 15 in Los Angeles. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. CST on May 19.
Gifting fans on Mother’s Day with the surprise release of “The Heart Part 5,” the 5-minute, Marvin Gaye-flipped symphony was just a small taste of what was to come. Using deep fake technology, Lamar’s morphs into notorious Black figures such as Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant, Will Smith, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett and OJ Simpson — rapping from the perspectives of each face he dons. “I am. All of us,” he proclaims in video’s intro, adding an immersive layer to the sentiments he’s intertwined throughout his “The Heart” series.
It’s been nine months since Lamar shared the “nu thoughts” that announced his departure from TDE — cherishing the past by ringing in new beginnings. Along with his upcoming world tour in July, surprise performance at Coachella, Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime performance and set at the Milano Summer Festival in June, K-Dot’s reign back on top — and at the helm of pgLang — is only just beginning.
The wait is finally over. Stream Kendrick Lamar’s ‘MM&TBS’ below!