Ranking the songs of “Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers,” Kendrick Lamar’s first album in five years

Donovan Wilson, Sports Editor

In 2017, Kendrick Lamar released his fifth album, “DAMN.” This album consisted of some of his best work with songs like “LOYALTY.,” “DNA.,” “LOVE.,” and “HUMBLE.”  After that album, Lamar essentially disappeared. 

In 2018, he helped produce the “Black Panther” album for the Marvel movie of the same name, but after that Kendrick seemingly vanished again. 

Throughout 2020 and 2021, multiple rumors from RapTV about a new Kendrick Lamar album began, and of course many were excited, then finally, in early 2022, he announced his new album, “Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers.” Overall, after a 5 year wait, Kendrick Lamar definitely nailed his return to music. He let us in on his life and showed how rough it was for the rapper from Compton, California. 

On this album, Kendrick raps about a lot of issues in the world and the black community. This album isn’t for the faint of heart because Kendrick says and talks about things with no filter: like a giant rant. 

There was a much longer delay than expected but since it’s finally here. In September of 2021, Lamar announced he was releasing an album, but after that announcement he once again went quiet. In February 2022, however, Lamar came back and said his album was coming soon. After another three month wait, however, Lamar released his album, and it lives up to hype. This is every song on “Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers’” ranked. 

  1. “Die Hard” — If you like the songs from his 2017 album, “DAMN,” then you will like this song. “Die Hard” is very upbeat and gives an R&B feel. Blxst and Amanda Reifer feature on the song. Blxst has a very strong verse while Reifer gives the song an angelic feel with her beautiful vocals on the chorus. If you love R&B just as much as rap, then you will love this song.
  2. “United in Grief” — The first song on the album is always a hit or miss. People are going to know if it’s a good album or not based on the first song, and Kendrick definitely starts his album off well with this song. The first lyric you hear on this album is “I hope you find some piece of mind, in this lifetime.” As soon as you hear that part you know Kendrick is going to speak his mind and he doesn’t care what other people think. The beat switch after the intro. is nice. The first beat reminds me of his “good kid, m.A.A.d city” album, but his second beat will definitely give you a vibe from his album “To Pimp A Butterfly.”
  3. “Savior” — In Kendrick’s first verse on “Savior” he says, “Even blacked out screens and called it solidarity.” Kendrick is calling out the “allies” during the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd when many would take to social media and make their profile pictures a black screen in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. For a lot of “allies” that’s all they did and to Kendrick, that wasn’t enough. Kendrick also raps about COVID and references Kyrie Irving, a star NBA player that is refusing to get vaccinated by saying “I caught COVID and started to question Kyrie, will I stay organic or hurt in this bed for two weeks”? If you listen to “Savior,” then please listen and analyze his lyrics because there are much deeper meanings related to social issues.
  4. “Mother|Sober” — The song starts off with a somber piano sample immediately giving the song an emotional feeling. Kendrick talks about trauma in his family and how he has tried to find himself. This is expressed by having Beth Gibbons feature on the track, singing lines like “I wish I was somebody, anybody but myself”. Gibbons has a very somber and almost desperate tone when singing, making what Kendrick is talking about resonate more. The song has a happy ending, however, as it ends with Kendrick’s fiance and his daughter saying a couple sweet words. 
  5. “Auntie Diaries” — This song addresses the transgender community, with Kendrick repeating the phrase “my auntie is a man now” after his verses. He talks about how his uncle transitioned when Kendrick was young. Kendrick talks about accepting the transition of his uncle and it’s a very emotional and hard-hitting song. The ending of the song really hits people’s emotions by addressing insensitive slurs. He compares straight people using the F-slur to white people saying the N-word. This song is very empowering and is definitely one of the favorites solely because of how well Kendrick addresses his uncle being trans and accepting people.
  6. “Mr. Morale” — If you have played the “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” video game or seen “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse,” then you might be reminded of their soundtracks because “Mr. Morale” sounds like it would fit in perfectly. The beat is ominous and bass heavy. A choir sample on top of the beat helps it give a superhero-esque theme that perfectly matches h Miles Morales. “Mr. Morale” is a good song to just vibe to compared to the other songs on the album that have deeper meanings and themes targeting social issues.
  7. “Mirror” — The final song on the album is exactly how you’d want it to end. In the chorus, Kendrick chants, “I chose me, I’m sorry.” This is a strong choice of words because you hear about all the troubles Kendrick went through in songs earlier on like in “Father Time,” “Mother|Sober” and “Auntie Diaries.” “Mirror” seems like he’s overcoming his troubles. The beat is super-upbeat and relaxing, like he is embracing life and has decided to focus on himself, all of which is backed up with lines like “blink twice again, I’m gone” and “run away from the culture to follow my heart.”
  8. “Worldwide Steppers” — This song is some good, old, classic Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick addresses his successes with his amazing lyrical skills. Kodak Black introduces Kendrick on this song and then Kendrick comes in, talking about how he’s one of the best in the rap game. Like “Mr. Morale” it’s a very good song to just vibe to and enjoy.
  9. “Rich Spirit” — Kendrick takes a break from his deep and powerful songs with “Rich Spirit.” He talks about his success and money throughout the song. Another good song to vibe to.
  10. “N95” — When you see the title of this song, you’ll think it’s going to be about COVID, but you’ll quickly find out you’re wrong. Kendrick calls out the fake grinders, influencers and people who show off their fame. Like “Rich Spirit,” it’s a good song to vibe to, but, like a lot of the other songs on the album, tackles relevant social issues.
  11. “Father Time” — Kendrick addresses daddy issues in “Father Time.” Kendrick has a nice solid flow as he talks about being neglected by his father and how he had to man up and take care of himself while hiding his emotions. As someone who grew up without a father figure, you can connect well with what Kendrick is saying. It’s not one of the top songs, but there’s definitely a message people can connect to in this song.
  12. “Crown” — Pleasing people and love are the themes in “Crown.” Kendrick addresses wanting to be perfect, especially with his fans, but he feels like he isn’t pleasing everyone, including himself. He wants to wear a crown to symbolize being perfect, but it turns out it’s a crown of thorns, like on the album cover. He also addresses love and compromise being an important part of life because, as Kendrick says in one of his lines, “love can change with the seasons.” Love can come and go and people need confirmation on if they are still loved or not.
  13. “Silent Hill” — This song doesn’t really fit in the album. Unlike the other songs which all have an obvious message or a hidden one if you listen hard enough, “Silent Hill” is the opposite. Just before Kendrick released the album he released a single called “The Heart Part 5.” That song would fit into the album perfectly, unlike “Silent Hill.” This song simply doesn’t fit in with the themes throughout the album. There’s no hidden message or deep dive into social issues. When you think of a cliche rap song, then “Silent Hill” fits, unlike the darker-toned songs throughout the album. “Silent Hill” would be a good single, but it shouldn’t be in the album simply because it doesn’t fit in.
  14. “Count Me Out” — When you’re one of the best musical artists in the game then you’re going to feel pressure from the stress, the fame and the hate. That’s what “Count Me Out” is about. Kendrick wants to call out his haters and tell them to keep counting him out, and it motivates him to do better and always seek to improve. This song is lower on the list because it’s unoriginal. Similar to “Silent Hill,” it’s a very cliche song that just doesn’t seem to take an effect on people as much as other songs like “Savior,” “Mother|Sober” or “Father Time.”
  15. “Purple Hearts” — When you’re famous, you need to have eyes in the back of your head because you don’t know who is a real friend and who is using you. Kendrick addresses this like a warning to people listening to “Purple Hearts.” He tells his audience to be careful with their fame and with girls because all people want to do is tear you down. Instead Kendrick wants you to find love, love for God. “Purple Hearts” is low on the list because it’s overall lackluster. You can tell it’s not Kendrick’s best work. The beat isn’t the best and lyrically the song is just weaker to others he’s made.
  16. “We Cry Together” — This “song” tackles serious issues that happen in relationships, like trust issues and outside influences ruining the relationship. It also talks about issues between men and women with abuse, neglect, and wage gaps. There’s one thing that ruins this song: it’s not a song. Kendrick and Taylour Paige go back and forth in an argument like a couple. Kendrick and Taylour could’ve easily tackled the issues addressed in “We Cry Together” by actually singing and rapping, not by screaming at each other. Honestly, the arguing is funny and overdramatic, especially at the end when the screaming couple decide to stop fighting and go to the bedroom. Give Kendrick and Taylour credit for their acting in this song though. It’s a very believable fight between the two.

Overall, after a 5 year wait, Kendrick Lamar definitely nailed his return to music. He lets us in on his life and shows how rough it is for the rapper from Compton, California. “Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers” can be found on all streaming platforms.