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Rapper Kendrick Lamar recently released his long-awaited fifth studio album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, his first in five years. The album has been received with a variety of responses ranging from praise to criticism. What are some of the common initial responses to the new album? Read on below to find out!
‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’
Lamar’s last album prior to this one was the award-winning “Damn.” in 2017. There was a lot of speculation about when a new album would come out, and there were rumors spreading last month that Kendrick had actually retired.
On May 13th, Lamar officially released Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. The album is 18 tracks long and features Baby Keem, Kodak Black, Summer Walker, Ghostface Killah, Sampha, Beth Gibbons, and Taylour Paige.
“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” was received with much critical acclaim, and was lauded as “one of the deepest cuts we’ve had from Kendrick” and “a bonafide masterpiece.” The album received a 90/100 rating from critics on Metacritic, giving it the sought-after label of “universal acclaim.”
Another music review aggregator, AnyDecentMusic, gave “Mr. Morale” a rating of 8.9/10 based on reviews from a variety of critics and publications. The album has received five star or 10/10 ratings from many large publications, including The Independent, The Guardian, and Clash.
By and large, other hip-hop and rap artists have been highly complimentary of the new album. For example, recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Eminem stated that the new album has him “speechless.”
Lamar has long been hailed as one of the greats by other artists and is often in the conversation for one of the best hip-hop artists of all time.
As with previous Kendrick Lamar albums, “Mr. Morale” was widely agreed to have creative and powerful lyricism. Kendrick tackles tough subjects like cancel culture, sex addiction, and transgender rights in a deeply introspective way.
In addition, the album features a wide range of musical styles and draws elements from jazz, blues, funk, and soul. The album has a good balance of upbeat tracks and softer, sadder piano songs. Many critics and casual fans alike have been happy with Lamar’s musical choices on this one.
Criticism and controversy
Although the album received great reviews from many Kendrick fans, there was some criticism of its style as well. Some reviewers called the album monotonous and dull, and many of the featured artists were criticized. Additionally, many felt that some songs were unnecessarily long and felt like empty space that was best left off the album.
In addition to stylistic criticism, the album was the subject of some degree of controversy. For one, some were critical of Kendrick including a feature from rapper Kodak Black, who was prosecuted for an alleged rape in 2016. Additionally, some members of the LGBTQ+ community were critical of the song “Auntie Diaries,” where Lamar says homophobic slurs and misgenders his transgender relatives while trying to support them.