Like the artwork for its predecessor, 2017’s Pulitzer-winning ‘DAMN.’, the new cover has Lamar featured front-and-centre with a blank expression.
This time, however, there’s more of a scene to appreciate: Lamar stands with his back to the camera, appearing to look wistfully out the window of a bedroom with what’s presumed to be his family. He’s clad in a white tee and muted slacks, a handgun sticking out from his belt and a crown of thorns adorned on his head.
Lamar is seen holding a young girl, who stares piercingly at the cover’s viewer, while on the bed in front of the rapper, a woman breastfeeds a newborn baby. Shot by New York photographer Renell Medrano, it’s a striking view of rich browns and beige, with a clear theme of family.
‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’ will be released tomorrow (May 13) via pgLang / Top Dawg / Aftermath / Interscope. Lamar announced it just shy of a month ago, cheekily doing so by responding to a fan that erroneously declared, “Kendrick Lamar is officially retired.”
At the start of the week, Lamar shared the album’s first and seemingly only single, ‘The Heart Part 5’. In addition to being his first headlined release since 2018 – when he dropped the SZA-featuring ‘All The Stars’, the lead single from his self-curated Black Panther soundtrack – it was notable for its polarising video, which used deepfake technology to incorporate “cameos” from the likes of Kanye West, Will Smith, OJ Simpson and the late Nipsey Hussle.
The song and video received an outpouring of acclaim from fans, colleagues and industry alike. Among the most notable fans was Hussle’s partner, Lauren London, who referred to the video – which launched a partnership between Lamar and South Park helmers Trey Parker and Matt Stone – as “powerful art”. NME gave the track a five-star review, with writer Kyann-Sian Williams calling it “[Lamar’s] most observational single yet”.
We still don’t know the tracklist for ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’, though a recent teaser post indicates it could be a rather lengthy affair. Last week, Lamar shared a photo of himself holding the album’s master on two CDs, as well as a hardcover book inscribed with his name and the new album’s title. This could be hinting that ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’ will be a double album, with an accompanying piece of literature.