Kendrick Lamar has finally revealed the name and date of release of his long-awaited fifth studio album.
In the five years since the release of his multi-platinum album DAMN, Lamar has been quiet on the music front, particularly in the last few years where we’ve barely heard a peep out of him.
Always one to do things his own way, the avant garde “Backyard Freestyle” rapper posted an image on his newly empty Instagram with a letter detailing the name and date of his forthcoming album.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new album.
What’s the Name of Kendrick Lamar’s New Album?
The album will be titled Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.
Lamar released the information on Instagram with a somewhat cryptic letter and on his oklama.com website at 11:00am Pacific Time.
The letter contained very little information except for the title and release date, with a line at the bottom of the page reading “Appreciate Your Patience.”
Fans online quickly noticed the similarities between this short letter and that of Michael Jordan’s, who released a longwinded legal letter in 1995 that, after a paragraph of introduction, simply read “I’m back.”
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As to the name of the thing, Lamar is notorious for obscurity and layers of complexity in his album and song titles, not to mention his lyrics. After all, he named his third studio album after a line in an 18th-century poem by Alexander Pope. Still, fans are pointing out online that the title is perhaps not as… cool? as they might have expected.
Lamar’s records have all been concept albums, to a greater or lesser degree, often dealing with the morality and ethics of gang culture and the effects of growing up in impoverished areas like Los Angeles’ Compton neighbourhood. This could be an in for the ‘Mr. Morale’ character in the title, whose name is likely not coincidentally phonetically similar to ‘moral’ and ‘morale’.
There have also long been rumours that Lamar’s next project would be more rock-influenced, however, the title itself sounds a little bit like a 1920s big band. Lamar previously explored psychedelic jazz on his album To Pimp a Butterfly, and this could be a return to the genre.
It’s likely that we simply won’t know until we hear the thing, but this is where a lot of the current speculation online is landing.
When Will Kendrick Lamar’s New Album Drop?
Fans will have just over three weeks to wait for the album which is set to drop on May 13.
It will be his first in just over five years. Lamar has previously taken just a few years between album drops, and fans have been studying every tiny piece of information for clues as to when he would return.
Lamar used a fan’s tweet, claiming that he had retired, to launch the new album information this morning on his oklama.com website.
— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) April 18, 2022
The website, which was launched in August last year, came five months after Lamar deleted all of his Instagram posts in March of 2021, and, until this morning, was the only photo on his feed.
What is the Tracklist of Kendrick Lamar’s New Album?
While we can’t say for certain exactly what the tracks on the album will be, Lamar did spark excitement in his fan base last year after it was revealed that the artist had registered the copyright for 32 new song titles.
They include tracks called “Before the Hangman’s Noose,” “Pale Horse Apocalypse,” “Bounce,” and “Driving Down the Darkness.”
Typically, registering the copyright of a song is not done by an artist unless the music is fully mixed, mastered, and ready for release.
Whether or not these are the songs that will be included on the new album, and whether Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers will have 32 tracks, is unclear. With that said, after five years of absence we expect fans wouldn’t mind getting 32 new tracks in one go.
Who is Oklama?
Lamar, like other huge rap artists, has always experimented with changes of persona and identity.
His earliest work was released under the name K. Dot, while in more recent work he has been known as both Kenny and Kung Fu Kenny.
Oklama appears to be another, albeit more abstract, step in this regard. Lamar, in fact, did sign the announcement letter with the name ‘oklama,’ however it is unclear whether this is just another identity, adopted for artistic purposes for this album, or whether he is actually intending that people now refer to him as oklama.
In August last year, when he announced that he would be releasing new music “soon” and that his upcoming album would be his last on the Top Dawg Entertainment label, Lamar also signed off as ‘oklama’.
At the time, we got a glimpse into the somewhat reclusive world that Lamar appeared to be operating in. He wrote that he spends most of his days “with fleeting thoughts”.
“Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence.
“I go months without a phone.
“Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family.
“While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next”.
As for what the name could actually mean, it may be a pun on “ok lamar” – ie, Kendrick Lamar is okay — some kind of reference to Barack Obama, or something else entirely. Again, we’ll probably have to wait and see with this one.
Is Kendrick Lamar Touring?
Lamar currently has a small handful of gigs booked in, with the expectation being that he will launch a world tour in support of the new album.
Currently, he is set to play Glastonbury Festival in the UK on June 22, Milan, Italy on June 23, and Rolling Loud Festival in Miami, Florida, on July 22nd.
Prior to this, he has played just a few shows in the past 12 months, notably including an appearance at the Super Bowl LVI Half Time Show.
As for Australian dates, or indeed, anywhere else, there are no confirmed shows as of yet.
With the album set to drop next month, we presume that he will announce a world tour in the coming months.
After Lamar released DAMN in April 2017, he began a world tour in July of that year. Based on this schedule, we can maybe expect to see Lamar launch into tour mode in August of this year.
That being said, it was still a whole year until he came to Australia, with the Oceania leg of the DAMN tour added on later.
This means Aussie fans may have to wait until next year to catch him again on home soil.