A day after his released his dense and complex album “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” and six days after his mind-melting deep fake clip for “The Heart Part 5,” Kendrick Lamar has unveiled the video for one of the 18-song album’s standout tracks, “N95.”
Again directed by Lamar with creative collaborator Dave Free for their company pgLang, the clip is filled with Christian imagery, from a passage where he is floating above the ocean in a Christ-like pose to a scene where he’s lying in bed in a room with many crosses hanging on the wall. Doubtless many more interpretations and meanings of the video will emerge in the coming days; “Mr. Morale” is an extremely complex album musically and especially lyrically. However, the vibey songs are there — such as “Rich Spirit,” “Count Me Out,” “Purple Hearts” and the Pharrell-helmed “Mr. Morale” — he just makes listeners work to get to them.
Unusually, “Mr. Morale” does not include “The Heart Part 5,” which was released just five days before the album. He also announced an extensive tour in support of the album that launches in July in Oklahoma and will cross North America, Europe and Australia before concluding in New Zealand in December.
The 18-track “Mr. Morale” includes guest appearances from Summer Walker, Ghostface Killah, Kodak Black, Sampha, Baby Keem, Beth Gibbons of Portishead and a deeply emotional performance from Taylour Paige on the harrowing “We Cry Together.” Production is primarily from Sounwave, Duval Timothy, Boi-1DA, Lamar as OKLAMA, and Pharrell Williams on “Mr. Morale.” Also notable in the lyrically and musically dense and complex album is “Auntie Diaries,” an unusually clear-eyed take on transphobia. In 2021, he featured on two songs from his cousin Baby Keem’s latest album, “Range Brothers” and the Grammy-winning “Family Ties.”
Lamar first shared the news that he was coming out with an album last month, responding to an earlier tweet from SK that said, “Kendrick Lamar is officially retired.” Lamar quote tweeted a response with a link: oklama.com, which leads to a note that reads:
“The following statement was released today by oklama, through his company pgLang at 11:00 a.m. PT in Los Angeles, CA: Album: ‘Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers’ Release date: 5/13/2022. All factual information for this release will come directly from this source only.”
Lamar’s last full-length studio album was 2017’s Grammy-winning “Damn,” which was released just two days before the rap titan headlined Coachella and made him the honoree at Variety’s inaugural Hitmakers event. He followed up a year later with the curation of the “Black Panther” soundtrack, which included his duet with SZA, “All the Stars” — receiving four nominations at the 61st Grammys including record of the year and song of the year.