For anyone that had any doubt that Kendrick Lamar was/is worthy of the “Pulitzer Prize” for his previous album in 2018 entitled “Damn.” Well my naysayers, “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is proof positive he’s deserving of that award and so many more.
This “woke” rapper stewed for five years on this project. He admits to having writers’ block for over two years in the lyrics of “Worldwide Steppers.” Nothing moved him, he claimed. I get that. As a writer/blogger, I must be moved to write – I need to feel something in my soul I need to say…get off my chest, so to speak.
A delightful and confirming surprise was to hear the voice of spiritual teacher and self-help author, Eckhart Tolle on “Savior” and called out again by the rapper Keem on Worldwide Steppers. Over the years, I’ve followed Eckhart and read a couple of his books; my favorites being “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,” read in 2008. Are rappers turning to self-help and therapy now? Damn.
Savior Interlude begins with Eckhart’s famed, calm voice, with a hint of a strange accent, reading,
“If you derive your sense of identity from being a victim,” Tolle narrates before Baby Keem’s verse. “Let’s say, bad things went down to you when you were a child. And you develop a sense of self that is based on the bad things that happened to you.”
This golden nugget is powerful – and for some folks, true to life. Some believe they are the bad thing(s) and can’t move forward. Kendrick adds he was sexually abused in the featured title song, “Mr. Morale.” What a revelation from a rapper from hard-ass, Compton, CA. Fearless, coated in honesty. I love that shit.
Later in “Auntie Daries” he admits his favorite cousin, “Demetrius is Mary-Ann now. He’s more confident to live his plan now.” At the end of Auntie Dairies, it’s his Aunt that confirmed for him, “there’s no room for contradiction. To truly understand love, switch positions.”
If Kendrick revealing he’d been sexually abused wasn’t shocking enough, this charismatic rapper then shares in a deeply personal and moving track that could be dedicated to the Trans Community, called “Auntie Daries” that he has a trans uncle. Yes. He admits his Auntie is a man now, and he’s (Kendrick) old enough to understand now.”
These moving and risky bars in Auntie Dairies reveal language that is supportive to the gay community, yet on the flip side, the highly demeaning term “faggot, faggot, faggot.”
Used in this context of the song, to lessen the word’s blow to the face of gay men, hits like a dagger to listeners.
And this is just an honest review of the first six cuts. Damn! The project is so courageous and what’s not sexy about courage. Enough of that. Who do I think I am anyway? A sixty-year-old, hip-hop lover or something?
By Tena Lawyer
Author/Life Coach/Blogger/Grandmother/Mother/Veteran/Educator/Hip-hop Lover 💚💗