Impactful hip-hop, R&B albums explore black narrative


“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”

In May 2022, rapper Kendrick Lamar released his fifth studio album “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” after years of anticipation. Lamar’s unique and emotional style makes every album a story told through melodies and motifs. For example, in his polemic 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” there are recurrent themes of materialism and oppression, studying the struggle for self love in
Black America. “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” is an intimate, nail-biting collection of self reflection. Lamar digs into his childhood with lyrics examining his relationship with his father, friends and lovers. He brings up how generational trauma combined with systemic racism impacts Black identity and life, prompting listeners to pay attention and listen with empathy. Though Lamar’s album is not a light listen, it’s a personal piece that reveals something new with every play.

“Gemini Rights”

Singer Steve Lacy, a notable figure in the R&B world, has been developing his original style with deep, overlapping melodies since some of his earliest music. From originally mixing and recording songs on his iPhone, Lacy has come a long way with the release of his July 2022 “Gemini Rights,” his second studio album. Rather than creating it alone, Lacy collaborated with other artists and professionals to deliver a summery album detailing the pain and bitterness of a first heartbreak that his listeners are able to empathize with, if not completely relate to. “Gemini Rights” was received with positivity, winning a Grammy award on Feb. 5. The world can expect much more from 24-year-old Lacy, who begins his first World Tour on Feb. 12.