The wait is over. Kendrick Lamar officially dropped his fifth studio album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers today. The long-awaited follow-up to his last studio album DAMN features collaborations with artists like Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, Kodak Black, Summer Walker, Ghostface Killah, Thundercat and Baby Keem.

Ahead of the release, Lamar, or ‘K-dot’, released the music video for “The Heart Part 5,” which sees his face being morphed into that of many black celebrities like Kanye West, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant and more. 

This will also be the rapper’s last album with long-time collaborator Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE), after announcing his departure from the label 9 months ago. Ever since his last album, K-dot has only periodically worked on select projects like the Black Panther soundtrack and a recent feature on Baby Keem’s album called ‘The Melodic Blue’ on a track called ‘Family Ties

The Pulitzer-prize winning artist is described as a “voice of the generation” by both fans and critics alike, with albums like “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” (2012) and “To Pimp a Butterfly” (2015) under his belt. 

His last album “DAMN” which came out in 2017, won a total of five Grammy Awards. However, it lost out on album of the year to Bruno Mar’s “24K Magic.” Regardless of it, K-dot himself has 14 Grammy Wins, making him one of the most coveted rappers of his generation. 

Ahead of the release, Lamar revealed the album artwork for “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers,” which features an image shot by Renell Medrano, a Bronx-based photographer and director. The cover features an intimate bedroom scene, with Lamar wearing what appears to be a crown made of thorns while carrying a child. In the background, we can see a woman sitting on a bed holding a baby. Look closer and you’ll also notice the gun tucked away into Lamar’s pants, as he stares out of the window. 

Considering Lamar’s five-year hiatus, the anticipation surrounding the new album is at its all-time high. Fans of the rapper have been flooding the internet with a host of reactions. Here are some of our favourite ones.  

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(Image credits: Top Dawg Entertainment)