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  • Writer's pictureOmar Pusey

Three Reasons Why Kendrick Lamar is Not Your Savior

Updated: Jan 25, 2023



Kendrick Lamar's Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers


Kendrick Lamar's 5th studio album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers was a distinctive piece of art. From start to finish, Kendrick Lamar creatively takes you on an adventure within his own mind, exploring issues within the Black community, including toxic relationships and his own personal issues. Kendrick even addresses homophobia & Transphobia within his own family and ignited controversial discussions within the public sphere. That’s where Mr. Morale truly succeeded; by starting uncomfortable conversations the public needed to hear. Undoubtedly fans were expecting Kendrick to release an album of DAMN’s nature, though that was not possible with the journey within Kendrick's mind. Mr. Morale was a project for Kendrick to release his mind over his 35 year life span. Then what happened to Kendrick Lamar Duckworth prior to Mr. Morale, the man known for his cunning lyricism and being touted as one of the best rappers of this generation? below I will talk about the three reasons why Kendrick is not your savior (that doesn't mean he isn't great though).



1. Kendrick's Disappearance before Mr. Morale


Before Mr. Morales & The Big Steppers released in 2022, Kendrick was a quintessential ghost to the rest of the world. There were moments in 2020 where Kendrick was spotted during the 2020 Compton Peace Walk in support of Black Lives Matters (pictured below) but aside from a few minor appearances within his community, no one knew exactly what Kendrick was doing. I bet Kendrick wouldn’t have wanted people in his business anyway. Kendrick wasn’t spotted having a big release party for the album. Instead, he was caught celebrating his album by playing soccer in the streets of West Ghana, Africa. It was not just a way of the African diaspora coming back to its roots but a dive into Ghana’s tourism and repatriation campaign, Beyond the Return – A Decade of African Renaissance. In 5 years relatively unknown to the public, Listening to Mr. Morale will uncovers what Kendrick has been doing since his 4th studio album DAMN (not including the Black Panther soundtrack).




(DeMar DeRozen & Kendrick Lamar, Compton Peace March 2020)



2. Unresolved Daddy Issues


“Daddy issues, hid my emotions, never expressed myself

Man should never show feelings, being sensitive never helped”


- Kendrick Lamar, Father Time


A lot of men face unresolved issues with their fathers and this is the same for Kendrick Lamar. Oftentimes young Black men are forced to grow up without father figures or have traumatic experiences because of their relationships with their fathers. It may sounds like a generalization but black men with daddy issues is a systemic issue that has been normalized in western culture. Ultimately, there has been a perpetuating cycle of daddy issues for young men through each generation. Though Kendrick Lamar addresses that issue in Mr. Morale, he is still trying to overcome his own issues. Father Time for example, is a song that explains Kendrick’s relationship with his father and many Black men in general.


When Kendrick addresses the issues with his father, he acknowledges that this phenomena is common with other Black men, often accompanied with traumatic and life altering experiences. However, these experiences become overlooked and neglected, establishing a cycle of men with issues attributed to their fathers. Today, the only change is how these relationships are publicized within social media. Currently, a trend within social media includes black fathers leaving their families to get the milk, a joke on black men making an excuse to leave the house. Grabbing the milk essentially an ambiguous phrase meaning that the father is not coming back to his family. Ironically, extensive dialogue and comedic skits are being developed to the point where fathers are having fun with their children. However, in Father Time is clearly traumatized by some of his experiences with his father. Kendrick doesn't have the answer for issues with your father but he gives you the opportunity to reflect on them; even celebrities are susceptible.


"Everything that he didn't want was everything that I was"


- Kedrick Lamar Father Time




3. Transgender and Homophobic remarks?


Kendrick held nothing back in Mr. Morale, which became extensively clear in the track Auntie Diaries. Within this song Kendrick explains and tries to rationalize his transgender family members, the people in his family he grew up watching.


This song became controversial because of how Kendrick repetitively utilized a homophobic slur used throughout the song. To some extent it made people uncomfortable, but others believe that it needed to be said, as Kendrick was trying to address how people within his family and community treated those of the LGBTQ+ community, which ultimately sparked polarizing debates over platforms like Twitter and TikTok.


"Fa**ot, fa**ot, fa**ot, we ain't know no better

My auntie became a man and I took pride in it"


- Kendrick Lamar, Auntie Diaries


Most tracks on Lamar’s Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers are uncomfortable but you can’t stop listening either. One song even covered a full blown argument between Kendrick and Taylour Paige, illustrating toxic relationships behind closed doors. To make it clear, Kendrick’s album wasn’t a bunch of trendy songs with an assortment of features, it was a conglomerate of disorganization that acted as a moment for Kendrick to address some opinions; Kendrick is going to do what's best for him and his family.



Summary


Kendrick is not a perfect person, he has his own flaws and biases. However, releasing Mr. Morales & The Big Steppers was an illustration of him removing the mask he wears, inviting viewers into the vulnerable and ugliness within his own mind. Think of Mr. Morale as an inside perspective to therapy, where each session is a deeper, more complicated layer within the patient's mind. As each song progressed Mr. Morale became more uncomfortable. The album wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be. Kendrick released this album because people are invested into his career, captivated by his specific worldview. Kendrick makes his narrative abundantly clear: “I’m not your savior”. He is a messenger that publicizes systemic issues like cancel culture and consumerism, without the answers to those issues. Kendrick ignited the narrative, but to find answers you must investigate further. Either way, I recommend that you listen to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers,






Kendrick Lamar received 8 nominations for the 2023 Grammy Awards, the most nominations out of all artists this year.


Coffee Consumed writing this post: 36 OZ


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