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    Kendrick Lamar's 'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers' In 5 Essential Songs

    The most poignant songs on Kendrick Lamar's latest album dive deep into his psyche and unintentionally involve some of the record's best featured guests.

    STEFFANEE WANG 16 HOURS AGO

    PGLANG/TDE ENTERTAINMENT

    THE 5 MUST-LISTEN TRACKS FROM KENDRICK LAMAR'S 'MR. MORALE & THE BIG STEPPERS'

    The rapper’s swan song is here.

    FB TW

    Kendrick Lamar’s swan song here. The acclaimed rapper’s latest project, and final album with his longtime label TDE, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, arrived on Friday to explosive excitement online. Following the release of his prelude single “The Heart Part 5,” the rapper continues on his deep excavations of love, fatherhood, generational trauma, and more on the album. At 18 tracks, it’s one of the densest, most complicated and personal projects of his to date, and there’s no doubt it’s primed to spark up more conversation in the coming weeks.

    With contributions from a slew of supporting characters — including, controversially, Kodak Black on two tracks — the album doesn’t hold back from speaking its truth; some songs have already found resistance online, not least the song “Auntie Diaries,” which includes Lamar saying a homophobic slur several times as he weaves a story about a transgender member of his family.

    Still, there are moments of intrigue and brightness throughout, particularly with its many features, including one bombastic, free-form “song” starring actress Taylour Paige. Lamar’s most poignant moments occur when he’s diving deep into his own psyche and flaws, holding them up in his hand for inspection, like an unpolished stone, trying to come to terms with the man he is and the man he wants to be.

    Below, NYLON rounded up the record’s best tracks — the ones that are must-listens — either for ease of listening, surprising features, or functioning as a definitive breakthrough moment in the album. Dive in below, and follow along by streaming the record.

    “DIE HARD” FEAT. AMANDA REIFER, BLXST

    In comparison to DAMN., Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers has fewer straightforward pop moments. “Die Hard” from the first half of the album is one of the radio friendly tracks on the record, largely due to the sweet-voiced contribution from rising Bajan singer Amanda Reifer and the song’s more traditional structure. As Lamar raps about his difficulty in opening up in a relationship, Reifer embodies the song’s female perspective, contributing the song’s tender post-chorus, “Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop/ Serafina, flame in ice/ Where I'd be without your love,” she reassures. Singer and rapper Blxst adds his own melancholic spin to the song’s hook, making this track the album’s most melodic moment.

    “FATHER TIME” FEAT. SAMPHA

    Flipping the tired trope of only women having daddy issues, Lamar excavates his own troubling relationship with his father on “Father Time.” Though he’s notoriously private about his personal life, Lamar featured his family on the album’s cover, revealing to the world that he’s now become a father to two children. In turn, there’s a lot of added weight to the songs’ ruminations about fatherhood, inherited trauma, and the growing up he still has to do. “Let's give the women a break, grown men with daddy issues,” he states. And with the addition of Sampha’s heart-wrenching croons as the emotional anchor on the song, “Father Time” shouldn’t be overlooked.

    “WE CRY TOGETHER” FEAT. TAYLOUR PAIGE

    One of the most intense tracks on the record, “We Cry Together” is Kendrick Lamar’s testament to relationships and one of his most experimental songs to date. Surprisingly featuring actress Taylour Paige of Zola fame who outstandingly holds her own, the song is essentially a screaming match between Paige and Lamar as they emulate a couple in the midst of an ugly fight, throwing insults at each other for nearly six minutes. “F*ck you, f*ck you, f*ck you,” they scream at each other repeatedly in one particularly heated moment. Paige, in a tirade about misogyny and the culture of toxic men, brings up everyone from Trump to Harvey Weinstein to R. Kelly. In response, Lamar calls her a fake feminist. All the while, discordant piano soundtracks the entire thing to maintain some semblance of song-likeness (incredibly, their insults are also rhymed). I’m still trying to parse exactly the point of it all, but one can’t deny that the song’s unforgettable — and Paige is an undeniable star in any role.

    “PURPLE HEARTS” FEAT. SUMMER WALKER, GHOSTFACE KILLAH

    Perhaps some of the most quotable and eyebrow-raising lines appear on “Purple Hearts,” the album’s closest thing to a love song. Featuring Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah, the track is all about love, illicit substances, and spirituality. Walker substantially contributes to the song, adding a heavy R&B lean to the track, as well as some crazy one-liners including: “Now if it's love, I deserve to get some head on a balcony,” and “No, it ain't love if you ain't never eat my ass.” That being said, she sounds great, her vocals granting some much needed softness and dimension to the song. Killah, on the other hand, paints his version of devotion a little differently, framing his verse around God and higher powers. Overall, the ultimate point of “Purple Hearts” is made compellingly clear in one succinct lyric: “Shut the f*ck up when you hear love talkin'.”

    Source : www.nylon.com

    [Official] Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers First Listen Impressions : KendrickLamar

    4.1k votes, 10.7k comments. Use this thread to discuss your first impressions of the album.

    4.1k

    [Official] Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers First Listen Impressions

    Discussion Posted by u/Perksofthesewalls 1 day ago 3 4 3

    [Official] Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers First Listen Impressions

    Discussion

    Use this thread to discuss your first impressions of the album.

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    level 1 underlydedicated · 3 min. ago

    Waiting for the album

    This is not my first impression cause this is my 5th time relistening to it. At first I rated it like a 5/10, i can now definitely say this album is a solid 8/10 in my books. I definitely wouldn’t rate it higher than GKMC (my favorite album) but its still good stuff nonetheless. I think the album is lacking music wise, because kendrick focused way more on the lyrics and poetry, which in itself is not a bad thing, but many of the songs arent really for me.

    Vote level 1 FolksFates · 44 min. ago

    The More I listen to it the more I start to love it.

    2 level 1

    Electronic-Arrival-3

    · 1 hr. ago

    Nah this album is CRAZY. It's much better than DAMN which I consider his weakest album (but still really good). I didn't love it on the first listen like TPAB but now I think that in some ways this is an even more interesting project. Of course it's too early to put scores on it. But sonically this is spectacular, Kendrick speaks about the things no other artists do. Production is extremely creative, in some tracks I hear Baby Keem influence which is a good thing because he is some of the most unique producers recently.

    10 level 1 rfive3 · 2 hr. ago

    This wasnt full of absolute bangers.. but then again I dont think it was supposed to.

    This was raw, and real. The focus wasnt the music, but the message and his thoughts. You can tell this has been brewing for a while and hes been waiting to get it off his chest, and I think it was executed really well.

    It wont go in my usual playlist, but I will listen to it occasionally on the side

    5 level 1 thecarter1999 · 2 hr. ago

    It’s just not his best work in my opinion. Much of the lyrics and flows are lucking punch, and musically while it has some interesting sounds at times it doesn’t compare with DAMN, TPAB, or GKMC, which is maybe an unfair bar. I was moved by the vulnerability and there are moments of classic K Dot wisdom but on the whole I felt it lacked cohesion and execution.

    -1 level 2 Fozzee89 · 2 hr. ago

    Lol. It doesn’t have to be his best work. With an artist like Kendrick who makes progressive music that relates to his current mindset all we ask is that he is honest in his music. Brilliant album, different albeit. But brilliant. As he says on ‘Crown’, he can’t please everyone

    2

    Continue this thread

    level 1 Loose_Keaf · 2 hr. ago

    I was conflicted at first (TPAB reference) but now I love it

    4 level 2 RedDit245610 · 51 min. ago

    This was me as well. Was disappointed at first because it wasn’t what I was expecting but now I love it

    2 level 1 chhhhrriiiiiiiissss · 2 hr. ago

    if this album was a movie it’d be an arthouse film, like the one where the guy gets addicted to huffing glue. you know the one. an acquired taste, like everybody and their mother’s been saying. for me, it was kind of boring but has moments that resonated. i didnt jive with the music all that much, i like message, yes i understand the message it’s been thoroughly hammered into my psyche, however it felt largely sporadic musically, meaning in terms of the product as a whole, how tracks compliment each other. ive also seen a lot of criticism of kendricks writing, i think the writing is fine most times, its just the writing in accompaniment with the instrumentals is off very often. kind of reminds me of swimming pools actually, the juxtaposition between the music and the lyrics. unlike swimming pools and most of gkmc, however, i didnt like the sound of these tracks as much. instrumentals borrowed aspects from genres such as rnb for example, a more modern type i cant be fucked to name that ive never really enjoyed. reminds me of how i felt about quelle chris and the first lp i heard from him “Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often” vs his newest “Innocent Country 2” that went in that rnb direction. just not the kind of sound i like, except mr morale and the big steppers had a couple more issues.

    getting in to specifics, the autotune was grating, there was audio clipping that sounded reaally off at points. for example, the high frequencies after his hook on purple hearts and the strange warping of his voice. nice to some, but super off especially considering the quality of the instrumental track.

    many of the hooks sounded out of place to me, crown had this really off tempo “cant please everybody” line that sounded off with the instrumental. some might argue it’s to represent him stumbling over himself or ruminating on past or present actions, id say even if that was the case it’s very unpleasant.

    Source : www.reddit.com

    Kendrick Lamar

    Starting today, I will no longer call Kendrick Lamar a musician; I will call him a motivational speaker that knows how to put his words together like a rapper. In Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, I think that he does an outstanding job of touching on topics that are haunting the black community in ways that are painfully honest, a bit complex, and almost sideless. I didn't spend most of my time nodding my head to the songs on this album; I spent most of my time deciphering Kendrick's powerful lyrics.

    Kendrick Lamar gets us to internalize both the wonders and blunders of the world in “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.”

    STREAM

    TOP 5

    Honorable Mention. N95

    Kendrick Lamar gets us to internalize both the wonders and blunders of the world in “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.” STREAM TOP 5 Honorable Mention. N95 Take off everything but your earphones while listening to “N95” (F**k, how did I end up buck-ass naked?).

    I’m pretty sure that Kung-Fu Kenny makes an appearance in “N95.” S**t, the fact that he calls out fugazi individuals to start the song off should tell you that it is him. What’s interesting is that the song has a few different tones: A hard-hitting tone, a superhero tone, an aggressive tone, and just a pure chaotic tone. This song is going to be fun to listen to during my bi-polar episodes.

    5. Silent Hill

    5. Silent Hill I never realized how similar Kendrick Lamar, Yeat, and Kodak Black are until this very moment.

    “Silent Hill” is the track from this album that you can play in any environment. For starters, the song features this bouncy beat that promotes head-nodding and hydraulic hopping (Everyone likes to nod their head and make their hydraulics hop, right?). The song also features very memorable melodic raps, dynamic flows, a catchy Yeat-Esque hook, and one of Kodak Black’s most efficient and hardest verses ever. I don’t think anyone with ears can say that this is a bad song.

    4. Savior

    4. Savior Ironically, Kendrick Lamar reminds us that he’s our savior by letting us know that he is not our savior in “Savior.”

    I think that “Savior” is the most important track on this album. In the song, Kendrick Lamar gives us his thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic, black-on-black hate, and the worshipping of celebrities. S**t, he even calls out Vladimir Putin. Though Kendrick doesn’t quite go nuclear rapping-wise (No pun intended), he does spit his bars with a level of conviction that tells me that this song means a lot to him.

    Watch, a bunch of rappers are going to start claiming that they are non-saviors in their songs. I swear, Kendrick Lamar is the Michael Jordan of reverse psychology.

    3. Count Me Out

    3. Count Me Out Which dumb-ass counted out Kendrick Lamar? Whoever did needs to be given the chair.

    “Count Me Out” is one helluva musical rollercoaster ride. In the song, Kendrick Lamar takes us to church, hooks us up with some bomb-ass Instagram captions, reminds us what resiliency looks like, forgets to take a breath, and blesses us with a great chorus. Honestly, I love this song because its many different layers make it truly different from literally everything I’ve heard in the past five years.

    2. We Cry Together

    2. We Cry Together “We Cry Together” should be performed at the Kennedy Center as soon as tomorrow (Let Hamilton’s ass take a seat).

    The acting performances that Kendrick Lamar and Taylour Page put up on “We Cry Together” are exceptional! In the song, the two go at each other’s necks about a whole bunch of nothing. Not nothing nothing, but, like, the nothing that people in toxic relationships usually argue about. Somehow, someway, the two artists find a way to rhyme in the midst of yelling, bad breath, and angry neighbors.

    1. Father Time

    1. Father Time After listening to this song, y’all better give Ja Morant’s dad an apology.

    With a title like “Father Time,” you would think the song is adorable, right? Not quite. Instead, Kendrick Lamar aggressively spits bars that revolve around the tough exterior/interior that he built because of his rough upbringing. I love that the song has gentle roots that try to pick a fight with Kendrick’s gritty approach. All in all, I feel like you get one of the LA rapper’s best performances of all time here.

    Kendrick Lamar, let me help you out: Drake and Kanye West’s beef was FAKE! We were all bamboozled.

    SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN

    1. United In Grief (5/5)

    2. N95 (5/5)

    3. Worldwide Steppers (5/5)

    4. Die Hard (4/5)

    5. Father Time (5/5)

    6. Rich (Interlude) (N/A)

    7. Rich Spirit (4/5)

    8. We Cry Together (5/5)

    9. Purple Hearts (5/5)

    10. Count Me Out (5/5)

    11. Crown (3/5)

    12. Silent Hill (4/5)

    13. Savior (Interlude) (N/A)

    14. Savior (5/5)

    15. Auntie Diaries (4/5)

    16. Mr. Morale (4/5)

    17. Mother I Sober (4/5)

    18. Mirror (4/5)

    RGM RATING

    (B+)

    Before y’all kill my top 5, let me make this clear: I pointed out MY favorite five songs. I fully understand that there are songs that are more important than others. OK, let’s carry on with the conclusion!

    Starting today, I will no longer call Kendrick Lamar a musician; I will call him a motivational speaker that knows how to put his words together like a rapper. In Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, I think that he does an outstanding job of touching on topics that are haunting the black community in ways that are painfully honest, a bit complex, and almost sideless. I didn’t spend most of my time nodding my head to the songs on this album; I spent most of my time internalizing Kendrick’s powerful lyrics.

    We must talk about the many different music styles we get in Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. Throughout the album, Kendrick Lamar’s willingness to experiment is apparent: He spits bars over beats that might give you seizures, beats that are on some old-school R&B s**t, beats that will turn clubs upside down, beats that boast dance vibes, and beats that bloom in irregular ways. Additionally, Kendrick does a fantastic job of diving deep into his melodic bag just as much as he dives into his kill-a-rapper bag. All in all, we must applaud Kendrick for sacrificing music that slaps in favor of music that has performances that are impactful and theatrical.

    Source : ratingsgamemusic.com

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