Following the arrival of Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar is set to make his grand return to the stage in just a few short months. “The Big Steppers Tour,” as the name implies, supports the rapper’s latest project and brings along Baby Keem and Tanna Leone. The expansive tour covers four countries and runs from late July through December of 2022, giving rap fans everywhere maximum opportunity to see the year’s most talked-about release performed live. (Grab tickets via Ticketmaster here.)
While the tour’s name takes after Kendrick’s latest double album, the setlist will undoubtedly cover each leg of the rapper’s celebrated career. From early Overly Dedicated and Section .80 gems to good kid, m.A.A.d city’s narrative-heavy masterstrokes, along with To Pimp a Butterfly and untitled unmastered.’s jazzy, artful tunes and DAMN.’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bangers, Kendrick’s setlist will very likely supplement the density of Mr. Moral with established fan favorites.
What’s less known, however, is whether the Compton-native will bring out his openers, each of whom features on Mr. Moral, during his headlining performance. Maybe even a performance of Baby Keem’s “family ties” or “range brothers?”
Regardless, the energy of the world tour might even top that of DAMN.’s. The closest thing Kendrick fans have had to a live performance as of late was his appearance at the 2022 Pepsi Superbowl Halftime Show, which saw him run through a quick medley in celebration of Dr. Dre. Notably, the medley featured no hints to the music of Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers. So, with live debuts at the ready, come prepared for an arena’s worth of rowdy fans to be rapping along.
In anticipation of such a time, we here at Consequence have put together our dream setlist. Is it wishful thinking? Maybe. But if anyone from Kendrick’s team is reading and wants to take our suggestions — cough — we’ll be grateful.
— Jonah Krueger
I can’t imagine anything more cathartic than screaming, “Bitch, you ugly as fuck!” in a stadium filled with thousands. — Kelly Park
2. “Backseat Freestyle”
Also add “I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower” to the list of Kendrick lyrics we’d like to scream with a sold-out arena. — J.K.
3. “King Kunta”
Leave it to Kendrick to make a genuine bop of a track that intertwines his contemporary rap king bravado with Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976) and Ralph W. Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952). One of the highlights of To Pimp a Butterfly, this track goes hard and will keep the energy high for the crowd. — André Heizer
Another one of Kung-Fu Kenny’s uncut bangers, “DNA” will light up the arena as soon as Kendrick raps the stunted “I got, I got, I got.” The boastful tune has enough energy to power a small city, and Kendrick knows it, as it was a popular opener for many of his post-DAMN. sets. We expect him to continue to regularly pull it out. –– J.K.
5. “Untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016”
It might be eight minutes long, but “Untitled 07” remains one of the essential tracks off of untitled unmastered. Kendrick usually only performs the first leg of the track live, but, hell, let’s run the whole thing; beat switch, lo-fi outro, and all. — J.K.
6. “Worldwide Steppers”
Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers might not have the same club appeal as a record like DAMN. — it’s hard to imagine a packed club vibing to “We Cry Together,” “Auntie Diaries,” or “Mother I Sober” — but the project still houses tracks that will undoubtedly prove to go extremely hard live. Of them, the hypnotic “Worldwide Steppers” could simultaneously have the whole place moving and contemplating their relationship with sex, class, and race. What a time! — J.K.
7. “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
Even as Kendrick matures past the young K.Dot portrayed on good kid, m.A.A.d city, the project still houses some of his most essential tracks. Chief among them might be “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” a certified tone-setter and crowd-pleaser. — J.K.
Kendrick made you think about it, but he is not your savior. This song captures one of the main themes of Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. The weight that comes with the spotlight of success for a Black individual in the United States is unjust, an aspect of a society with deep systemic issues. This track will be an excellent choice to bring out Baby Keem to the stage for a series of songs. — A.H.
9. “range brothers”
Top of the mornin’. When Baby Keem dropped The Melodic Blue in 2021, Kendrick fans were simultaneously bewildered and amused with his parts in this song. Nine months and a full studio album later, this track is certified fresh, and will surely have fans singing along: Let’s get this shit. — A.H.
10. “family ties”
Off Baby Keem’s The Melodic Blue, this song is undeniably among the best hip-hop songs of 2021, with a Grammy to show for it. It will be a great way to send off his cousin before the second half of Kendrick’s show. — A.H.
11. “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
It’ll be quite shocking if Kendrick doesn’t pull out “Swimming Pools (Drank),” one of his biggest pre-DAMN. hits. Even with its meditations on addiction and self-harm, it’s still a party track at its core, and what’s a Kendrick concert if not an intellectually charged party? — J.K.
12. “Rich Spirit”
One of the most melodic cuts from Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers, “Rich Spirit” follows in the footsteps of tracks like “i” with its self-loving chorus: “Bitch, I’m attractive.” And if I’m at a Kendrick show and feeling good, that’s exactly the type of hook I want to hear. — J.K.
13. “Purple Hearts”
“Purple Hearts” ends the first disc of Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers and, frankly, has one of the sexiest beats found on the entirety of the double LP. The luxuriousness of the track gives it the potential to be a future live staple. — J.K.
“LOVE.” had one of the longest tails of DAMN.’s rollout. After initially charting at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it later peaked at No. 11 after it was rereleased as DAMN.’s third single six months later. Though it’s unlikely that ZACARI will hop on stage to sing the hook, it’s likely Kendrick adds it to the setlist regardless. — J.K.
In the closing track of his Pulitzer Prize winning DAMN. (2017), Kendrick shows us why he got the award by putting on a masterclass in songwriting. Weaving three narratives together, he drops a bomb at the end that stuns listeners. A single act of kindness is all it takes to change the course of multiple lives. — A.H.
16. “Father Time”
This track off Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers (2022) is a great way to roll off the previous track, and is all about Kendrick’s strenuous relationship with his father. One of the highlights from the album, this song shows K.Dot’s vulnerable side while he attempts to call out the toxic masculinity in his culture. –– A.H.
17. “m.A.A.d city”
Hopefully the infamous incident recently referenced in “Auntie Diaries” doesn’t dissuade Kendrick from pulling out this classic good kid, m.A.A.d city banger. It’s one of the best tracks on the record, if not of Kendrick’s entire discography, and deserves to withstand the controversy. — J.K.
18. “Money Trees”
“Money Trees” has easily stood the test of time. Kendrick and Jay Rock encapsulate a landscape of rap subgenres, all wrapped up and packaged into a six-minute magnum opus. — K.P.
19. “United in Grief”
Starting a set with the first song from your latest release is an easy go-to, but it seems particularly fitting in the case of “United in Grief.” Not only does it carry an indescribable feeling of the start of something great, but it perfectly frames the themes Kendrick goes on to tackle on the rest of Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers — or, in this case, the themes he’ll go on to tackle on stage. — J.K.
One couldn’t refuse the chance to transport into the sonic universe of Kendrick, Thundercat, Pharrel Williams, and the unwavering energy that “Alright” brings to the table. –– K.P.
When Kendrick dropped “Humble” as the first single to his To Pimp A Butterfly follow-up, the world lit on fire. Here was a more club-friendly Kendrick that was poised to dominate the charts. He’ll almost assuredly break out the song, and the crowd will even more assuredly refrain from his advice to “sit down” when he does. — J.K.