Kendrick Lamar has done it again (Picture: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Rap’s outstanding voice and mind is plainly on one of those epic runs great artists can get locked into – think Stevie Wonder in the early Seventies, or Prince a decade later.
True, while those titans were turning out an album a year, it’s been five since Lamar’s last. He’s never one to be rushed.
After (by his standards) the concise and direct Damn, he’s back to the sprawling, at times jaw-dropping eclecticism that characterised To Pimp A Butterfly.
If Butterfly was Lamar linking the environment that made him to the wider narrative of the US and Damn a personal reckoning with his country, then Mr Morale & The Big Steppers is his therapy record – a double LP dealing with the trauma handed down through families and black families in particular.
Only the UK’s Dave has even come close to casting so unsparing an eye on that subject.
The insight, the rage, the tenderness, the anguish that Lamar invokes, the vocal and lyrical range he applies, the musical invention behind it, are cumulatively both harrowing and dazzling.
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers (Picture: pgLang/TDE/Aftermath/Interscope)
Who else could have conceived so astonishing a track as We Cry Together, like Johnny Cash and June Carter’s Jackson transposed to contemporary Compton.
Or brought such sensitive, self-critical nuance to a study of homophobia and transphobia on Auntie Diaries.
Mr Morale shows daring, ambition and accomplishment that in any other artist would be extraordinary.
With Lamar, the surprise would be if he did anything else. It’s not just that there’s nobody else in rap currently operating at this level.
At this point you have to wonder if there’s anybody in the whole of pop music operating at this level…
Kendrick Lamar – Mr Morale & the Big Steppers is out now.
Lamar hits the road in the UK this autumn on his tour (Picture: @renellaice)
Kendrick Lamar UK tour dates and how to buy tickets
Lamar will be hitting the road later this year on his The Big Steppers Tour.
The hip-hop icon will hit the US first from mid-July, before arriving in Europe in October. He’ll be performing on eight nights across the UK and Ireland in November – dates below:
Wed Nov 02– Glasgow, UK – OVO Hydro
Thu Nov 03 – Leeds, UK – First Direct Arena
Fri Nov 04 – Newcastle, UK – Utilita Arena
Sat Nov 05 – Birmingham, UK – Utilita Arena
Mon Nov 07 – London, UK – The O2
Tue Nov 08 – London, UK – The O2
Sun Nov 13 – Dublin, IE – 3Arena
Wed Nov 16 – Manchester, UK – AO Arena
Supported by Baby Keem on all dates and Tanna Leone on some dates, tickets will be on general sale on Friday, May 20, and can be purchased from Ticketmaster.