Kendrick Lamar has officially announced the release of his highly anticipated album, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, coming May 13. 

The Compton-born rapper shared the news on Instagram just this week in quite the literary fashion. Kendrick posted a letterhead statement under his moniker Oklama through his media company pgLang, announcing the imminent release of Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. The end of the letter included the following message: “All factual information for this release will come directly from this source only.” 

Kendrick doesn’t release new music very often, but that hasn’t meant complete radio silence from the rapper. In the last five years, Lamar has been featured on various other albums including the Black Panther soundtrack compilation, and most recently performed alongside fellow titans of Los Angeles rap, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, at the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show. 

If you look at Kendrick’s past albums––DAMN. (2017), To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), good. kid m.A.A.d city (2012)––they aren’t bodies of work that get written in a year or two. Journalist and author Michael J. Moore, author of The Butterfly Effect, a 2020 biography of Kendrick Lamar, gives some insight about why the rapper’s albums come few and far between. Moore told Rolling Stone Music Now podcast host Brian Hiatt that, from a young age, the “Hustle like you broke” mentality was ingrained in Kendrick by friend-turned-producer Anthony “Top-Dawg” Tiffith.

The hustle has definitely paid off. 34-year old rapper, Kendrick Lamar, has already proved himself to be one of the classic artists of this century. With To Pimp A Butterfly, one of the greatest rap albums of all time, Kendrick made his philosophical and poetic debut on a national literary stage, and in 2018 he confirmed this status with a Pulitzer Prize for the virtualistic, soul-searching DAMN. 

Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers will be Kendrick’s last album with Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). On his parting ways with TDE, the rapper ensured that his loyalty for the label is unwavering: “As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years. The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling,” he wrote.

Kendrick Lamar at the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show, courtesy of Vogue

Michael J. Moore is inclined to believe that Kendrick will make a concerted turn towards more traditional hip hop in Mr. Morale, but concedes that perhaps that opinion is only wishful thinking on his own part. In the meantime, you can purchase Moore’s book The Butterfly Effect here, and listen to more from Kendrick on Spotify . May 13, be ready!

Carlie Houser Author
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Carlie Houser Author
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