On the cover of his new album, “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers”—which fell from hip-hop heaven on Friday—Kendrick Lamar wears a crown of thorns while holding his daughter.
And no doubt, in the 10 years since his Insta-classic success, 2012’s “Good Kid, MAAD City,” the 34-year-old artist has emerged as the king of the rap world, winning 14 Grammys and even Has also won an impressive Pulitzer Prize. , While contemporaries like Drake have had more hits, Lamar has earned insane respect as the most important rapper of his generation.
On his ambitious new double LP – equally divided into two nine-track tracks – Lamar shows both the power and pressure of his position. “Heavy is the head that chose to wear the crown / To whom much is now given,” he raps on “The Crown.”
Later, on the rumored “Savior” of fame, he makes it clear that he was not trying to strike the pose of Jesus with the crown of thorns on the album’s cover: “Kendrick made you think about it, but He is not your savior.”
Still, there’s no doubt that, from “Good Kid” to 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” to 2017’s “Damon” to now “Mr. Morale”—not to mention 2018’s “Black Panther” soundtrack Lamar has been the true voice and consciousness of hip-hop.
Christopher Driscoll, co-writer of 2019’s “Kendrick Lamar and the Making of Black Meaning,” told The Post, “One of the most fascinating things about Lamar as this cultural icon is essentially doing no wrong. could.” “It is worth to us how powerful his art is to so many people.”
Indeed, even though it’s been five years—an eternity in hip-hop—since his last studio album, Lamar’s “Mr. Morale.”
“As far as songwriters are concerned, he’s at the top of the heap, as far as the general emerges,” Driscoll said. “There’s no one better right now, and everyone knows it.”
After Lamar brings the streets of Compton to the gritty life on “The Good Kid”, he is hired by Dr. Dre was soon anointed as the more soulful, spiritual heir to the throne. In fact, that connection and growth was demonstrated when K-DOT performed during this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, which was essentially an all-star tribute to Dre.
But it was with “To Pimp a Butterfly” that Lamar took on even more prominence for “Alright”, which the Black Lives Matter movement was not yet aware of its need. Driscoll said, “People on the ground, marching and doing things like that, find themselves with an anthem… It’s a product of their talent and their vulnerability.”
And while Lamar famously rapped about being “humble” on “Damon,” that album gave him bragging rights as the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music. Just as another Pulitzer Prize winner, Bob Dylan, did in the ’60s, Lamar became an artist who reflected the times and the social change that needed to happen.
“His work is healing very deep wounds within the black community, within the broader American community, and within the hip-hop community,” said Driscoll, one of the academics who also taught college courses on Lamar .
It’s no surprise that “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers” quickly became the most important album of 2022 – the kind that you’ll dissect all of its lyrical details as it gets deeper and deeper with the music that That ranges from lusciously soulful to hauntingly moody. Whether it’s reflecting on the pandemic on “N95” and “Count Me Out” or black family issues on “Father Time” and “Mother I Sober,” Lamar’s voice matters.
It is a voice that Lamar uses to make a statement in support of the trans community on “Aunt Diaries”, one of the album’s highlights. Against a chill, electro-infused groove, he raps about two trans family members who taught him to choose “humanity over religion.”
Given the homophobic history in hip-hop, it’s a revelation—and a reminder of why we need Lamarr.