Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is the rapper’s first album since 2017.
It’s happening. Kendrick Lamar has announced a release date and title for his long-awaited new album. A memo-style message posted on his website stated that “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” would arrive on May 13.
Lamar pointed fans toward the news — which comes just days after the five-year anniversary of his last album, the Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN. — with a tweet that linked to his website, posted as a response to a fan’s February claim that the rapper known as K. Dot had “officially retired.”
The announcement is by far the most concrete information yet about a new release from Lamar, who has stayed largely quiet for the past several years amid public speculation about his career. In August 2021, he posted a message on his site referencing his reclusive nature (“I go months without a phone,” he wrote in the post) while announcing that his upcoming album would be his final one with his longtime label, Top Dawg Entertainment.
“As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years,” Lamar said in his August post. “The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.”
In 2020, Lamar formed his own label and media company, pgLang (the new message contains a pgLang watermark at its top); his signee Baby Keem won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance for their collaboration “Family Ties.” Asked about Lamar’s decision to leave, Punch, TDE’s president, told Mic earlier this year: “I don’t even know if I would describe it that way as ready to leave, as more so ready to build his own thing. That’s a grown man right now. We watched him grow from a teenager up into an established grown man, a businessman, and one of the greatest artists of all time. So how long do you actually be signed up under somebody? It’s been almost 20 years. So it’s time to move on and try new things and venture out.”