Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
5d ago (updated 4d ago)
95
Everybody at one point has cried to a song before. Some songs bring an element of relatability while others create a saddening/emotional story. This album has all of that for me and its why I'm so attached to it. This was a whole different experience from TPAB or good kid m.A.A.d city and comparing it to those two albums just doesn't do this LP justice. It may not have the auxability of TPAB or good kid m.A.A.d city, but it still presents a raw image of Kendrick's issues and traumatic past.

The Heart Part 5 set the expectations for Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers really high, so the sound of this album is a bit of surprise with Kendrick dabbing into different soundscapes. Now I'm not saying the production is bad because its actually very enjoyable despite the lack of high tempo radio bangers. Slow piano chords, soft strings, wavy bass, smooth choruses in the background and simple drums make up the majority of the production with it sounding so polished. Everything flows together so nicely and my favorite parts are when you can hear the strings harmonize with the piano chords and choruses. It sounds so graceful and when you combine that with Kendrick's strong vocal delivery you have yourself a great song.

You know what else makes a great song? Good songwriting. Fortunately, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers has phenomenal song writing. Kendrick discussing his trauma and how he coped with it on Mother I Sober literally broke me. It didn't even feel like a song, it felt like watching a movie or a play. I had a similar experience while listening to Auntie Diaries, but something about the soft piano chords and Kendrick's mellowed voice in Mother I Sober moved me. I'm not going to completely dissect each song because I think its better for a listener to go in blind (also because there is just simply so many meanings), but some of my other highlights are Kendrick highlighting toxic masculinity on Father Time which is personal for me because its something I dealt with and Kendrick accepting himself on the end track Mirror. Mirror is such a beautiful track and it shows Kendrick dropping all of his guilt and accepting himself for what he has done, who he is, but also what he can do to make things better. I think Mirror is also a perfect metaphor for this album tracklist too. The Big Steppers portion of this album comes on the first disc while Mr. Morale comes on the second because when you look through a mirror the image you see back is reflected.

This album is only a few months old, so I'm sure I'll learn more and more about the albums meaning as time goes on, but one of the main themes of the album is tap dancing. We hear tap dancing on almost every track and I think its meant to be Kendrick avoiding his inner trauma. This whole concept is super interesting and I kinda feel this is the AOTY so far. Soft production, great features (Sampha on Father Time is incredible), and fantastic songwriting left a big impression on me. This is gonna be one of those albums where we look back and say "that was a damn good album".

172/180
TOP 3: Father Time, Mother I Sober, Mirror
WORST: Purple Hearts

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