Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers

By Torben Karl and Ellie Riser

“I choose me, I’m sorry/I choose me, I’m sorry/I choose me, I’m sorry/I choose me, I’m sorry.” – Track #18, Mirror

For the man who is been appointed as the voice of a generation, each step is taken carefully 

Perhaps nothing could highlight the closing message of Mr Morale better than the public’s early reception. 

Torben: Despite its debut at #1 on the Billboard, on social media, fans claimed that the album undersold. At 286,000 copies in its first week, it is Kendrick’s third lowest-selling studio album, and certainly fewer than expected from one of the greatest rappers of all time in his return from a five-year hiatus. One plausible reason for this could be that it doesn’t have any real stand-out hits. Coming off of Damn, an album which touted some of K Dot’s most fiery lyrics and intoxicating hooks, like off “DNA” or “HUMBLE,” listeners were understandably underwhelmed by the lack of such bangers. 

After five long years, Kendrick fans, myself included, were VERY ready for his return and expectations were high. But maybe they were too high. On the album, Kendrick attempts to expose his fans’ tendency to read deeply into every line of his songs and question the pedestal that he his placed on. 

Ellie: I think this album’s purpose was to break out of his “Good Kid Maad City” rep. This album was like a dog whistle to OG fans who dissect all of his lyrics. For his entire career, it feels as if Lamar hasn’t been taken seriously in terms of gangster rap. He has hidden behind the role of the observer in many of his songs that talk about gang violence. Although he makes it clear he is by no means innocent, it’s as if people still hold him up as a savior for his community, and this album showed the world the ugly, raw, scars of Kendrick Lamar Duckworth.

If you didn’t find a hit on this album that’s alright. This moment in King Kunta’s career wasn’t for Billboard or even for the “culture.” With Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar is choosing himself.

Ellie’s Top Tracks:

  1. Silent Hill Ft. Kodak Black #12
  2. Father Time Ft. Sampha #4
  3. We Cry Together Ft. Taylour Paige #8
  4. Rich Spirit #7

Torben’s Track Ranking: 

  1. Father Time Ft. Sampha #5
  2. Savior Ft. Baby Keem, Sam Dew #14

The Heart Part 5

  1. Rich Spirit #7
  2. Die Hard #4
  3. Silent Hill #3
  4. Mother I Sober Ft. Beth Gibbons #17
  5. We Cry Together #8
  6. Count Me Out #10
  7. Auntie Diaries #15
  8. Rich (Interlude) #6
  9. Mirror #18
  10. Mr. Morale #16
  11. United in Grief #1
  12. Purple Hearts #9
  13. N95 #2
  14. Worldwide Steppers #3
  15. Crown #11
  16. Savior (Interlude) #13

Photos courtesy of MMATBS press images. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” Via