The long, five-year wait is finally over: Kendrick Lamar has dropped new album, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. The 18-song set record is the follow-up to 2017’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Damn. and marks the rapper’s final LP for his longtime label, Top Dawg Entertainment.
Spread over two discs, the rapper’s fifth studio album boasts appearances from a wide variety of collaborators — including Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, R&B singer Summer Walker, singer-songwriter Sampha, Baby Keem, Ghostface Killah, Kodak Black and Thundercat. It also features writing and production contributions from Pharrell, the Alchemist, Beach Noise and Boi-1da, among others.
In the lead-up to the album’s reveal this week, he teased the cover art shot by lauded photographer Renell Medrano. In the striking image, Lamar wears a crown of thorns while carrying a child who looks steadily into the camera. In the background, a his fiancé Whitney Alford sits on a bed while cradling a baby.
The anticipation for Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers has been building since last August, when Lamar first posted a note on his Oklama website that said the album he was producing would be his last release on TDE. Since then, he has provided other hints that tipped to the possibility that the record might be a double album (or maybe even a book). He also released an image featuring the letterhead of his company, pgLang, announcing the album’s arrival date.
Earlier this month, he released the single, “The Heart Part 5,” which does not appear on the new album. Lamar also shared the track’s wild video, which features his face morphing into various digitally produced celebrity “deep fakes,” including Kanye West, Will Smith, and the late Nipsey Hussle.
Stream Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers below.