Why Kendrick Lamar's New Album Is His Most Controversial Work

Kendrick Lamar takes aim at his own image and delves into the darker sides of his psyche on his long-awaited new album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.  “I am not your savior,” he raps, while almost compulsively revealing his sexual history, a bout with writer’s block, relationship troubles, and more.

The album’s brutal honesty and oft-deliberate messiness makes it one of the year’s most fascinating releases, even as it’s earned Lamar some of the first mixed reviews of his career.

On the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, Marcus J. Moore, author of the definitive Lamar biography The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America, joins host Brian Hiatt to dig deep on the album. The episode goes song by song through the album, from the brilliance of tracks like “Die Hard” and “Crown” to Lamar’s surprising personal revelations to the widely criticized lyrics of “Auntie Diaries” to the decision to spotlight rapper Kodak Black despite the rape allegations he faced (he pled guilty to first degree assault and battery in the case).

To hear the whole episode, press play above, or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out three years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, Rick Ross, Alicia Keys, the National, Ice Cube, Robert Plant, Dua Lipa, Questlove, Killer Mike, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Liam Gallagher, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Justin Townes Earle, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Eddie Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many others — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast on SiriusXM’s Volume, channel 106.

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