Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
5d ago (updated 2d ago)
95
"Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers" Kendrick Lamar's Mirror

With narration from Kodak Black and Eckhart Tolle, sounds of tap dancing and a god damn Beth Gibbons feature, Kendrick goes on a thetrical, personal and dark journey in order to free himself and what a rollecoaster this is!

The production is some of his best! The whole record although sonically diverse, maintains a cohesiveness due to the constant use of these dramatic theatrical pianos, featuring many incredible and sometimes really experimental instrumentals

Kodak Black and Kendrick's wife Whitney appear to be the "narrators" for this first half in which Kendrick although in therapy is still tap dancing around his problems something his wife tells him to stop doing after “We Cry Together”. She also previously suggested reaching out to Eckhard in “Father Time” something he finally does in the first track from the second disc in which he experiences his breakthrough. From this point and on Eckhart Tolle is the only narrator acting as Kendrick's therapist as we won't hear from Whitney Or Kodak until the end of "Mother I Sober". The record also mirrors itself. As hinted in the last track "Mirror", "Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers" is somewhat of a chiasmus meaning that when we "mirror" the 2 discs or more simply fold the whole thing in half, the accordingly "opposite" tracks relate and/or contradict with each other. (United In Grief / Mirror, N95 / Mother I Sober etc.). Even the interludes and title tracks of each disc are strategically placed to (when mirrored) line up with the other disc's interlude and title track. Lastly, even the title of the record is correct only when mirrored as disc 1 is "The Big Steppers" and not the other way around

Although I really loved "The Heart Part 5" and I think it's one of his best songs I prefer the direction the LP took and I don't understand why people are upset by this style change. That single although fantastic, was really safe. We all knew Kendrick could do that because he's done it in the past with projects like "To Pimp A Butterfly" and "untitled unmastered". This new sound though, is very modern yet risky and in my opinion this risk paid off

The amazing intro "United In Grief" features a very obscure instrumental and incredible flows while the next cut "N95" is a banger with a catchy chorus, energetic beat and creative deliveries. "Die Hard" although slower is very catchy and "Father Time" is in my opinion the best on this first disc and god damn this instrumental is phenomenal. Kendrick is on top form and Sampha delivers a soothing chorus. "Rich Spirit" is one of the catchiest cuts on the whole album having a great bounce and finally "We Cry Together" is extremely theatrical and tragic. They absolutely nailed this

Although I loved the first half of the record, this second disc is somehow even better. "Count Me Out" kicks things off amazingly while "Silent Hill" features one of the best performances I've heard from Kodak. The "Savior Interlude" has Baby Keem deliver one of his best verses ever leading to one of the best songs on the project. Keem lays down a fantastic chorus while his big cousin kills it with 3 astonishing verses over a hard hitting beat. The chemistry these 2 have is just priceless. I also really loved "Auntie Diaries" and generally Kendrick's whole perspective on this matter

But the best is yet to come...

This ending is just mindblowing. "Mother I Sober" is one of his best and densest songs ever. With a haunting chorus provided by Beth Gibbons, Kendrick digs deep into his dark past realizing that trauma from his childhood is affecting him even today. As foreshadowed by Eckhart Tolle in the previous track

"People get taken over by this pain-body
Because this energy field that almost has a life of its own
It needs to, periodically, feed on more unhappiness"

You broke a generational curse" is what Whitney tells him after liberating himself and everyone else while the reoccurring melody appearing in both” United In Grief" and "Count Me Out" plays again this time singing

"Before I go in fast asleep, love me for me
I bare my soul and now we're free"

As we'll see in the next track after being free, Kendrick was "building his world again" as all this past trauma destroyed his family and that's what drove him "away" from his culture. (A topic heavily discussed in The Heart Part 5)

And what comes next is probably the biggest emotional high I've felt on an album since ever and in my opinion Kendrick's most powerful ending. The first thing we hear is Kodak saying "I choose me" and this is the message Kendrick is leaving us off to. "Mirror" is triumphant as hell! The song itself is perfect but the writing is what stands out most to me

“Faith in one man is a ship sinking
Do yourself a favor and get a mirror that mirror grievance
Then point it at me so the reflection can mirror freedom”

He raps on the final verse before closing things off with one of his most honest set of lines ever being

"Sorry I didn't save the world, my friend
I was too busy buildin' mine again
I choose me I'm sorry"

So pure, blunt and just god damn brilliant!

What a beautiful and emotional way to conclude an otherwise very dark record. I have no doubt in my mind that Kendrick has delivered another masterpiece. "Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers" is another gem for his already incredibly decorated discography

Favorites--> Mother I Sober, Mirror, Father Time, Worldwide Steppers, N95, Savior, United In Grief, Auntie Diaries, Count Me Out, We Cry Together, Die Hard and Crown

Track Ratings
1United In Grief / 100
2N95 / 100
3Worldwide Steppers / 100
4Die Hard / 100
5Father Time / 100
7Rich Spirit / 100
8We Cry Together / 100
9Purple Hearts / 85
1Count Me Out / 100
2Crown / 100
3Silent Hill / 95
4Savior (Interlude) / 100
5Savior / 100
6Auntie Diaries / 100
7Mr. Morale / 100
8Mother I Sober / 100
9Mirror / 100
11 Comments
5d
Great review :))
5d
Huge dub
5d
@Tzimi thanks!!!
5d
what do u think about We Cry Together?
5d
@Yea it was really confusing on first listen but heavily grew on me. Really theatrical cut
5d
@Yea wbu
5d
Great review, it deserves those 5 points tho
5d
@SomeMidSongs it’s really close trust me lmao
4d
Brilliant!!!
3d
@m_dub_shine Thanks!!!
3d
I really that track too, The Alchemist production is top tier and the "conversation" between Kendrick and Taylor is emotional
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