Kendrick Lamar is back. It's hard to believe you're reading that right but he's officially announced his new album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. It's due for release on 13th May almost five years after his album DAMN. In that time, Lamar has become more and more elusive to the point where he's only released a handful of guest verses since 2019. Despite his large absence, he's still been on his game since DAMN. albeit in short doses. Here's the journey to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.
SZA - Doves In The Wind (2017)
It's hard to believe that both SZA and Kendrick Lamar haven't released an album since 2017. Just after the release of DAMN. back in 2017, TDE dropped SZA's debut CTRL and Lamar and SZA teamed up for Doves In The Wind. It was perfection, obviously. A dedication to "pussy", it features both of the artists at the top of their game both cheeky and sleek.
Vince Staples - Yeah Right (2017)
Another great album that came out the same year as DAMN. was Staples' Big Fish Theory. It featured this absolute slam dunk of a tune featuring Lamar and Aussie vocalist Kučka with production by SOPHIE and Flume. It's a dream team and they didn't disappoint with a steely, harsh performance that's sweetened by the vocal interlude of Kučka. Lamar is the anchor of the song coming in strong atop SOPHIE's industrial production.
Lil Wayne - Mona Lisa (2018)
Wayne and Lamar are two of the best rappers of this generation but they both bring very different vibes to Mona Lisa. Lamar's verse switches up the entire track as he delivers one of his clear post-DAMN. highlights. The whole song shuts down before Lamar rolls through with a racing, menacing verse.
Black Panther: The Album (2018)
The closest we got to a new Lamar album during this period was The Black Panther soundtrack with saw Lamar executive produce a set of orignals for the film featuring SZA, The Weeknd, Jorja Smith and more. All The Stars, another collaboration between SZA and Lamar was the song that rose to the top becoming one of the biggest pop hits for both acts. It was nominated for a Grammy for Record and Song of the Year.
Nipsey Hussle - Dedication (2018)
Just a year before Nipsey Hussle's tragic death he released his debut studio album Victory Lap. Dedication was cherry-picked from the crop as the third single from the album creating a perfect match between Nipsey and Lamar. Both are Californian rappers who represent hard for their hometowns. Nispey revealed that Lamar's verse talks to fellow LA legends Snoop Dogg, Top Dawg and Nispey himself. "I'm at the premiere politickin' with Top, Nip, and Snoop," he raps, referencing the premiere of the Tupac film All Eyez On Me.
Anderson .Paak - Tints (2018)
According to .Paak, it took Lamar over a year to send his verse back for Tints so much so that .Paak lost hope. Thankfully, he didn't because Tints is one of the shiniest moments either of the artists have ever delivered. Their chemistry is magnetic as the pair take a few minutes to revel in being braggadocious.
2 Chainz - Momma I Hit A Lick (2019)
It's 2019 and Lamar's appearances are starting to get more and more sparse. He appeared on 2 Chainz' Momma I Hit A Lick, the first time the pair had collaborated since they appeared together on A$AP Rocky's 2013 hit Fuckin' Problems. Lamar asserts himself as the leader of the rap game rapping, "Switch the flow 'cos they know n***** like identity theft." Fittingly, his flow on this track is constantly detouring.
Beyoncé - The Nile (2019)
Beyoncé and Lamar last collaborated on Freedom off Bey's Lemonade but they teamed up once again for The Nile from Bey's Lion King soundtrack. It's a fleeting meeting but the pair are as rock steady as ever. Lamar raps while Bey harmonises in the background creating an otherworldly listening experience. We would happily accept a collaborative album from these two.
SiR - Hair Down (2019)
Lamar's feature spots have become a rarity but he always has time for his TDE family. He jumped on SiR's Hair Down off his 2019 album Chasing Summer - one of the more soulful tracks Lamar has featured on. It was an unlikely hit, racking up the most streams of SiR's career, thanks in part to Lamar's psychedelic, elongated verse.
Baby Keem - Family Ties (2021)
Two years without a feature and then Lamar jumps on his cousin Baby Keem's Family Ties. It's a triumphant, grandiose track that completely switches it up for Lamar's entrance. His verse comes in over a washed-out, woozy beat that Lamar takes on with a rollicking verse. It's a phenomenal show and a return that helped earn the duo a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance. If this is what he's doing on a feature in 2019 we can't wait to hear what voices he brings out for the new record.