As I’m sure you have all heard by now, Kendrick Lamar released his first solo album in five years this past Friday in “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers“. The project marks Kendrick’s sixth studio album, as well as his last album with his label Top Dawg Entertainment.
There was very little promotion heading into this project. In fact, Kendrick didn’t even release a lead single in advance. Although he released The Heart Part V to the surprise of many fans in the week leading up to his album’s release, Kendrick still put very little promotional time into this new album. He announced the title and date of it. He released the album’s cover art. He released The Heart Part V. And then it was time for the album. Besides these moments, Kendrick remained silent. No videos, no trailers, no tweeting- just an announcement.
At midnight as the album released, fans on Twitter began exploding in discourse over the album’s opening tracks. Fans argued back and forth over whether the experimental drum breaks and lack of instruments in some of the songs was genius, or horrendous.
Twitter accounts with profile pictures of their favorite artists of all genres began calling Kendrick’s work anything from mid, to great, to perfect, to ‘just not for me’. Despite your take, it was impossible to avoid the conversation. It was everywhere on social media and pop culture platforms.
Within two hours, there were many people already ranking it somewhere in Kendrick’s discography. Music listeners across all different communities began firing off on the artist’s newest project. Scrolling through the timeline, one could have found a range of people making tweets like “this album just isn’t impressing me like his other albums” to “based on this listen, I have this as Kendrick’s third best album.”
What confuses me is why individuals resort to ‘rating’ music as their instant form of discourse over music. Many accounts (like the one below) took the opportunity to also upset hip-hop fans, which added fuel to the fire.
I can say with confidence, the album slaps. Kendrick did what Kendrick does. But there is no reason to compare it to other Kendrick projects in the first day of its release. There’s no reason to make outlandish tweets to annoy hip-hop fans and get under the skin of music enjoyers.
If you are listening to Kendrick Lamar in 2022 to find the things that you do not like about his project then you probably do not deserve to be blessed with the genius that he offers to our society as a whole (yes- ALL of society; not just the music industry). If you are ranking Kendrick Lamar’s album in comparison to other projects immediately after the project ends, you probably missed the point of the album entirely.
When you are coming off of a project like ‘DAMN’, of course expectations are going to be high. After all, DAMN was the first hip-hop album to ever win a Pulitzer Prize, and deservedly so. Much of Kendrick’s legacy to this point has been built on the fact that he doesn’t miss with his albums. Every project to this point has been a pure showcase of storytelling, deep thought, and reflection- everything that art is about to the core.
So why ruin that by rushing your mind to process a project that took 5 years for a generational talent to create? Why jump the gun on making a statement that “this is Kendrick’s second worst album” in the first week of it’s release and lowkey influence your future listens of the album? You may not have the chance to experience it properly again for another five years…
So if you haven’t checked it out yet, you obviously need to listen to Kendrick Lamar’s new album “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers“. Personally, my favorite tracks are Worldwide Steppers, Rich- Interlude, We Cry Together, Savior and Mother I Sober. My least favorite tracks were N95, Crown, and Rich Spirit due to the pop influences (they are good in their own right), but it’s also kind of funny in that N95 is the best performing song from the album so far. Comment what your favorite moments were below!