“[It’s] so open and honest that some people can’t listen to it,” said Tyler during a Converse All Star Series panel. “Because they probably feel like he’s looking at them in their eyes. And they’re like, ‘Uhhh, I can’t panic. I can’t listen to this. Put on something else so I can hit my dougie.’”
The praise arose unprompted. Tyler fielded an audience question about the difficulty of expressing honest vulnerability in his love songs. He drew a parallel between the song “Willshire,” from his 2021 album Call Me If You Get Lost, and Kendrick’s long-anticipated May release.
“I hate liars,” Tyler answered. “That ‘Wilshire’ song you mentioned, that’s just what happened. It wasn’t no metaphors, I wasn’t trying to be coy about it. I told you exactly what happened for eight minutes.”
He likened the song — a detailed and unconventional tale of budding romance and his emotional betrayal of a friend — to the vulnerability that Kendrick expressed on Mr. Morale & Big Steppers.
“We gotta cut the bullshit and be more honest,” he said. “And that’s what Kendrick is doing with his new album.”
On his fifth album, the Compton rapper returned from reclusively with a record that laid bare a host of personal traumas. A deep internal lens is not unique to his latest, but following DAMN. — where he directly addressed FOX News’ bad faith criticism of his 2015 BET performance on top of a flaming cop car, and loud calls for the MC to break his silence and isolation during the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement — many expected and even awaited a project that would speak to the weight of their worldly concerns.
“The cat is out the bag, I am not your savior / I find it just as difficult to love thy neighbor,” Kendrick raps on “Savior.”
As Tyler said of “Wilshire”: “I didn’t even want anyone to like the song. I just needed to get that off.” Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers gives a strong sense of Kendrick lifting the lid on his own internal pressure cooker.
Kendrick has since faced some criticism for a few of the choices that burst from within, such as the repeated use of an LGTBQ slur on “Auntie Diaries” and continuing the platforming of artists accused of abuse as a means to talk about abuse. But at the panel, Tyler spoke to the power he sees in unfiltered honesty.
“Me doing that allows you to say, ‘man fuck it,’ let’s do our version of this,” he said. “And then your friends… they might go have a talk with their parents they wasn’t going to have, because y’all gave them the courage for that. From that, they parents is like, ‘damn that lady at work kinda said some dadada,’ now they gonna have a conversation [too].”
At its release, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 and boasted the biggest opening week for an album in 2022.
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