Five days after the release of opaque double album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers we are still just listeners. There’s a lot to unpack. While we analyze Kendrick, his thoughts (and ours) in preparation of an album review, for now we’ll focus on the facts.
On Saturday, May 14th, Kendrick Lamar released a music video for track two off Mr. Morale& the Big Steppers N95. Directed by Kendrick, and business partner Dave Free the video relies on fleeting images. Kendrick plays a number of disparate characters, in a setting flush with Christian undertones. The video drops right on the heels of The Heart Part 5 video which was also co-directed by the dynamic pair.
As a song, N95 uses the masks popularized during the pandemic as a personification for the materialism, greed, and excess of the modern world. Specifically, throughout the song, Kendrick consistent returns to the refrain of “take it off”, implying that as a society we need to shed our avarice to reveal the stripped-down truth that lies underneath. In many ways, this is what Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers means to Kendrick. It is the result of shedding the weight of the industry, of wealth, of fame, and revealing the real man behind the Grammys, the Pulitzer Prize, and the worldwide acclaim.
To illustrate, the N95 video sees Kendrick play Jesus, floating over the ocean in crucifix-like form. He is pigeoneer working out on big-city rooftops. He plays a piano player surrounded by beautiful women. Kendrick even crawls through an abandoned building with cousin Baby Keem. Kendrick implies that people from all walks of life, or the many different sides of one person are only truly revealed when they finally take off the mask.
— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) May 13, 2022
The day of the album release, Kendrick also announced ‘The Big Steppers Tour’, which will see him performing with pgLang artists Tanna Leone and Baby Keem. The tour will run July – September in North America, before heading overseas to Europe and Australia.
Tour details, including dates and tickets can be found at https://oklama.com/tour. Stay tuned, as we will be sharing a full album review of Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers soon.