Review: Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers


Katie Bowers

Kendrick Lamar dissects complicated themes and topics in his eighteen-song double album, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.”

The last time Kendrick Lamar released a solo album, the class of ‘22 was in middle school. That five year hiatus came to an end at 11:00 p.m. last night, with the release of his fifth studio album—“Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.” This double-album is not for those seeking summer jams or music to turn up to. Rather, it is an album of social commentaries and deep personal statements that deserves to be listened to all the way through. It’s eighteen songs dissect a wide variety of difficult topics, from fatherhood to cancel culture, from a digital world to the struggles of familial love, from misogyny to generational trauma, from food swamps to toxic masculinity. To get the most out of the album, listen to it with the lyrics in front of you. Though Kendrick dips his toes into orchestral compositions and beautiful piano work on this album, the complex, raw lyricism is what makes it as good as it is, not its production. It is a good album. You owe it to yourself to listen to it at least once, in all its complicated glory. But it’s not going to change your life. All in all, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is a welcome return for Kendrick Lamar, and once again reminds us that rap can be more than beats and bragging

**Aine Bradley contributed commentary on the “Auntie Diaries” controversy:

Many fans have been debating Kendricks Lamars song “Auntie Diaries’ ‘ off of “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.” In the song, Kendrick tells the story of two transgender family members and his support for them. Within this narrative, he uses the f-slur and misgenders the transgender people in the story in order to show his development of opinions on the LGBTQIA+ community. This song has been met with both praise and criticism. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I enjoy the honesty of Kendrick’s self-reflection and how he doesn’t sugarcoat the homophobia and transphobia that he was surrounded by as a child. I see how the misgendering of his uncle and usage of the f-slur in the song is a critique and quotation of his past self. That being said, I don’t believe the direct nature of this commentary was necessary to achieve the moral produced. I think that “aiding” the transgender community should not come at the expense of offending the transgender community, and Kendrick’s framing of himself as a sort of “cis-savior” takes away from the value of his transgender loved ones. I appreciate what Kendrick is trying to do, and it’s clear that his intention for this song was to talk about the struggles of the transgender community , however, I believe that he could have taken a different approach. One of the main points of the song is to make the listener uncomfortable, but I believe Kendrick could have achieved this without saying the f-slur multiple times throughout the song.