Kendrick Lamar Returns With ‘Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers’
Last Sunday, Lamar released a new music video, “The Heart Part 5,” as a teaser for “Mr. Morale.” It has a spoken prologue stating “life is perspective” and then shows Lamar’s face melding with those of a series of Black men of varying levels of cultural heroism or controversy: O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, Nipsey Hussle. The deepfake effects were created by Deep Voodoo, a studio from the “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, which is planning further projects with pgLang, a new company founded by Lamar and Dave Free, a longtime collaborator.
The lyrics in “The Heart Part 5” have already been scoured for meaning, as has the image that Lamar shared on Wednesday of the album’s cover, photographed by Renell Medrano. It shows Lamar, in a crown of thorns, holding a child while a woman on a bed nurses a baby, like an allegorical religious painting.
To some extent, those may also serve as clues for the next stage of Lamar’s career. “Mr. Morale” will be his last album for Top Dawg Entertainment, or TDE, Lamar’s home since the beginning of his career, which has released his music in partnership with Interscope. He has not announced a new label deal, but has instead begun new projects with pgLang, which was announced two years ago as a “multilingual, at service company” that will work on a range of creative and commercial projects, from the video for “The Heart Part 5” to a series of new Converse sneakers.