Released as a double album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is Kendrick Lamar’s fifth and final studio album with Top Dawg Entertainment. TDE founder and CEO Anthony Tiffith teased fans during a May 2020 Instagram Live, saying “Stay patient” and “King Kendrick will return soon.”
On August 20, 2021, Kendrick teased his return with a new website—oklama.com—explaining that the upcoming project would be his last release with TDE:
As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years. The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.
On April 18, 2022, Kendrick shared a statement revealing the project’s release date and title through his website and social media. A week before the release date, an image of Kendrick holding two CDs was shared via oklama.com, driving speculation that Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers would be a double album, which turned out to be accurate.
On May 8, 2022, Kendrick surprise-dropped “The Heart Part 5” with an accompanying music video that saw his face morphing into stars like Kanye West and Will Smith. Three days later, Kendrick took to social media to reveal the album’s cover art, shot by Renell Medrano. He didn’t unveil the album’s tracklist until its release, leaving fans hyped up until the final moments before the drop.