Lamar teased the record—his “final TDE album,” as he described it—on a website launched in August 2021. “May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling,” he wrote at the time.
“There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown.” He signed the note, “Oklama.”
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers follows Lamar’s Pulitzer-winning 2017 album Damn. Since then, he’s curated and helmed the Black Panther soundtrack, headlined Coachella and Top Dawg Entertainment’s Championship Tour, won a bunch of Grammy Awards, and been nominated for an Oscar.
In 2019, Kendrick Lamar featured on Sir’s “Hair Down,” Raphael Saadiq’s “Rearview,” the Lion King song “Nile,” Dreamville’s “Under the Sun,” and 2 Chainz’s “Momma I Hit a Lick.” He was set to headline Glastonbury Festival 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic shut down festivals and touring for the year. In October, he appeared on the Busta Rhymes song “Look Over Your Shoulder” before joining Baby Keem on “Range Brothers” and “Family Ties.”
In March 2020, Lamar and his longtime collaborator Dave Free launched pgLang, an enterprise they described as “a new multi-lingual, at service company.”
He’s the subject of a new cultural biography by Pitchfork contributor Marcus J. Moore called The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America.
Damn. was Pitchfork’s No. 1 Album of 2017. Watch its episode of Pitchfork’s “Instant Classic” below. Plus, read “With Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Win, the World May Finally Be Catching Up to Rap” on the Pitch.