Kendrick Lamar took his latest album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers to SNL on Saturday night (October 1). (October 1).
Introduced by actor Miles Teller, the Pulitzer Prize-winner played a trio of pieces from his critically acclaimed fifth LP.
Wearing a pink hoodie, trucker hat and black leather leggings, along with an assortment of bejewelled accessories, Kendrick opened with “Rich Spirit” while stood motionless inside a minimalist, dimly-lit cube — an homage to his Big Steppers Tour, which invited listeners to “help Mr. Morale get out of the box.”
Halfway through the song, the simple set design was imbued with a bit of magic as K. Dot’s shadow, which was projected onto the wall behind him, began to move on its own.
The Compton native then ramped up the energy by switching into “N95,” becoming considerably more agitated while a lights show unfurled around him.
Various messages were projected onto the walls, such as: “Lil L Got His Passport Yall,” “4 Peez Kee Riches,” “The Homie Jason Keaton Wrote Two Books In Prison The Edges [And] Envy In The Eyes” and “Yea We Still Playing Industry Politics.”
Kee Riches, a fellow Los Angeles rapper, was murdered and killed in Compton on September 24, while Keaton is a Compton-bred novelist who Kendrick has referenced in his music in the past (see: 2009’s “Uncle Bobby & Jason Keaton”).
Kendrick later returned to perform “Father Time” with British crooner Sampha, who joined him inside the cubic stage, newly-decorated with a bed, armchair, bedside table, lamp and a stack of books.
The set again again came to life as the walls steadily closed in on the duo, perhaps representing the emotionally-restricted upbringing that K. Dot unpacks on the song.
“I come from a generation of home invasions and I have daddy issues, that’s on me / Everything them four walls had taught me, made habits bury deep,” he raps.
This time, Kendrick’s quirky wardrobe was swapped out for a more modest one, replete with a bespoke blue pgLang L.A. Dodgers cap — which his longtime manager and pgLang partner Dave Free insisted is for members only. “You need be from pg to get a fitting. Not for sale,” he tweeted during the programme.
Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers medley marks his fifth appearance on SNL and first in four years.
He made his debut in 2013 to perform good kid, m.A.A.d city singles “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “Poetic Justice,” before returning in 2014 to play would-be To Pimp a Butterfly song I and “Pay For It” alongside Jay Rock and singer/pianist Chantal Kreviazuk.
He’s also performed twice as a guest, joining Imagine Dragons for “Radioactive” in 2014 and aiding Anderson .
Paak with “Tints” in 2018.
Recently, Kendrick has graced stages all throughout the continent. Along with fellow pgLang signees Baby Keem and Tanna Leone, he sold out arenas across North America on his Big Steppers Tour in July and September. This past summer, he also served as the headlining act at Rolling Loud Miami and Glastonbury.
Regarding Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, the album garnered 295,000 album-equivalent units in its first week and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in May. It has since reached one billion Spotify streams, becoming the first rap album of this year to accomplish the feat, and it is estimated to have sold over 800,000 sales in the United States.
Kendrick received nine nominations for the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards, including those for Hip Hop Artist of the Year, Hip Hop Album of the Year, and Lyricist of the Year thanks to the project.
Later this month, SNL will continue to feature Hip Hop, with Megan Thee Stallion serving as both the program's host and musical guest on October 15.