Kendrick Lamar’s N95

The Pulitzer-winning rapper makes waves with his return to the rap game


Ava Bien, Staff Writer

Kendrick Lamar’s new album, “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”, dropped in May, marking his return since “DAMN.”, released in 2017. He rejects his cleaner rhythms for a messier style, restless beats, uneasy stops and starts and jerky rapping, displaying the raw, troubled thoughts about the traumas of life as a Black man in America. With 18 powerful, meaning-filled tracks, the album creates waves in the rap game. 

A day after the album dropped, Lamar put out the music video for, “N95,” one of the strongest songs on the album. The lead single starts off feeling like your classic hip-hop hit  but it soon reveals much deeper ideas, rapping about self-justification and hypocrisy, mask-wearing and covid, and money and “designer bullshit”. 

The track title is a reference to the N95 masks recommended to the public during the pandemic, as a comparison to the fakeness and insincerity in America’s culture. The song opens with a greeting to the “new world” and lists off societal distortions, referencing a new normality being set.  

Lamar reflects on the inauthenticity developed by society’s changes throughout recent years, with lines about “cancel culture”, “microwave memes” and the morals lost by the public through clout chasing. 

This track stands out from Lamar’s past work with a unique sound and a complexity behind the song that he has never reached before. The song is an incredible classic hip-hop song that is perfect for both playing on aux with friends and for plugging in on your own and tuning out the world.