Review: Kendrick Lamar is Raw in Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers


Coretta Wilkinson, Reporter

Kendrick Lamar is more vulnerable than ever in his newest album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

It touches on difficult topics such as fatherhood, masculinity, sexism, homophobia, and race. I’ve always been impressed with his instrumentals, magical melodies, and catchy lyrics—he didn’t disappoint me.

My favorite track, “Father Time (feat. Sampha),” speaks on Lamar’s experience as a father and his struggles with his masculinity. He talks about how his own father’s absence in his life has affected his views and perspective as a man. 

Lamar poetically vocalizes the affliction he still deals with. “Man should never show feelings, being sensitive never helped,” he growls. He feels that he must be the father that he never had for his children, because he partook in dangerous things in his childhood, suffering without having a role model.

Throughout the song, Lamar roars over a buoyant, orchestral melody, demonstrating his torment, while Sampha’s velvety, rich voice contrasts the harshness. The warmth Sampha brings is an interesting clash with Lamar’s coldness, symbolizing perseverance and hope.

This was my favorite song, because Lamar’s emotional take on toxic masculinity, especially within the African American community, is important. He’s making it an open conversation. I have always loved how Lamar expresses himself through language and him embracing his vulnerability in this song gave me chills. 

Lamar later in the album explores sexism and toxic relationships. 

In “We Cry Together” with Taylour Paige, Lamar and Paige argue in an intense performance about an unhealthy relationship. Paige’s harsh, fierce tone on being a woman is the exact representation we need right now. 

The line, “You the reason we overlooked, underpaid, underbooked, under shame” rang in my ears, even hours after listening to the album. I thank Lamar for featuring Paige in this album because her symbolizing the unheard voice of women and the oppression we face is essential in today’s society. 

Racial tension is discussed in “Mother I Sober (feat. Beth Gibbons of Portishead),” a phenomenal, soft, emotive track. Lamar talks about how being Black in America is not only complex, but also sheds light on the generational trauma that adds to it. 

He mentions how the Black community deals with the trauma, but never addresses it. He energetically gets into the conversation of slavery and how it still effects the community to this day.  “A conversation, not bein’ addressed in Black families, the devastation hauntin’ generations and humanity.” His tone is grainy and filled with aggression, demonstrating how the discomfort feels. This song was extremely important to me as a Black woman. 

This is a crucial discussion that never gets brought up, and Lamar openly talking about our shared pain is inspiring. 

Lamar never fails to take difficult, universal experiences into influential and beautiful art. This was a flawless album, and I admire Lamar for his confidence and vulnerability. His transparency and raw take on all topics is always impressive. 

The instrumentals on this album were beautifully done and well orchestrated. From fairytale-like instrumentals to trap beats, Lamar’s production and mixing on this album was incredible. 

I applaud Lamar for being the voice we need right now, and I think this album will be a part of our history.