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The BRIT Awards 2018, The O2, London, UK, Wednesday 21 Feb 2018

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Kendrick Lamar will return from a mostly quiet five-year hiatus to issue his fifth and likely final album under the Top Dawg Entertainment banner. Yesterday, he replied to a two-month-old Tweet saying that he’d bowed out of the rap game by posting a link that leads to a curt press release.

The brief one-sheet sports a simple pgLang letterhead, and the 34-year-old multiplatinum-selling lyricist announced in it that he’s dropping the project, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, on Friday, May 13, 2022. “All factual information for this release will come directly from this source only,” it reads.

K-Dot last graced music fans with the Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN in 2017. He also was the executive producer for the Black Panther soundtrack the following year, as well as a co-writer for every song on the project. But he’s mainly kept a low profile otherwise.

In March 2020, the rapper and former TDE president Dave Free linked up to form their own multidisciplinary media organization, pgLang. “Our community speaks music, film, television, art, books, and podcasts — because sometimes we have to use different languages to get the point of our stories across,” says the company’s landing page.

And eight months ago, Lamar posted an e-letter to fans talking about solitude and cutting himself off from the world. “Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family,” he wrote. “While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next.”

However, despite moving on from TDE, King Kunta still noted the love and appreciation he felt “to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years.” He added the following statement: “May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.”

Since then, Lamar’s featured on Baby Keem’s debut studio album, The Melodic Blue (which was released last September through Columbia Records and pgLang), performed at Super Bowl LVI along with his mentor Dr. Dre, and signed rapper Tanna Leone to Def Jam Records and pgLang. K-Dot is also headlining both the Glastonbury Festival in June and Rolling Loud Miami the following month, so expect him to perform a few singles from Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers there, too.