By Jeremy Binning
Kendrick Lamar is giving fans a new album next month announcing the release of “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” dropping Friday, May 13. This is set to be his fifth studio album, almost five years after his last album “DAMN.” was released. This is Lamar’s final album under Top Dawg as he is going to become a free agent after it drops. Both Lamar and Top, CEO of the label, have expressed that they both mutually agree to go separate ways as Lamar has done all he can for the label, bringing in major success.
“DAMN.” was the number one album of 2017 according to Pitchfork.com and also received a Pulitzer prize for music. Fans have been flooding the rapper’s comments on Instagram for the past few years begging for a new album, however, Lamar was focused on other things. During his hiatus, he was heard on countless other projects such as his work on the Black Panther sound track and collaborations with fellow label mates like Baby Keem, including their most recent Grammy-winning song “Family Ties.” He was also nominated for an Oscar under the category, “Best Original Song” for his collaboration with Top Dawg artist SZA on “All The Stars.”
Lamar is a household name in hip-hop and is highly respected by both fans and other artists, so it’s no shock that this album is projected to move about 350,000 equivalent units in the U.S. in its first week and is also expected to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Lamar sold 603,000 first-week from “DAMN.” This continued his streak of improving his first week numbers after his two albums previously brought in 324,000 and 242,000, respectively, from his 2015s To Pimp a Butterfly and 2012’s Good Kid M.A.A.D. City.
Lamar announced the album on his Oklama website in a press release. The release states: “All factual information for this release will come directly from this source only. As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years. 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.”
This confirmed to fans that this was his final project under the label, but shows the mutual agreement between both parties as there is no love lost between the company and the artist.
Kiyanna Noel, a junior majoring in journalism, is anticipating another classic album from the Compton rapper.
“He’s different from other artists like Drake and other mainstream rappers because he makes the same hype music they make but he adds knowledge in his lyrics. It’s what separates him from everyone else,” Noel said. “Only J. Cole could be mentioned in the same sentence as him rap-wise.”
Lamar has set the stage for this album being his biggest yet, with the increase in streaming numbers every year since his last album release. Lamar has nothing to prove but will give fans what they’ve been waiting for the last five years. For others in the music industry, it’s probably best to not drop music the same week a Kendrick Lamar album is releasing.