Kendrick Lamar's Super Bowl Performance Could Mean A New Album Is Coming
The rapper hasn’t released an album since 2017’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Damn.
Kendrick Lamar will take the stage alongside Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg for the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 13. Set to take place at SoFi Stadium in Lamar’s native California, the performance will mark a major accomplishment in the Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper’s decades-long career. Four years removed from his latest release, Lamar is also rumored to drop new music ahead of game day, meaning his musical hiatus could soon come to an end.
On Jan. 27, Billboard reported that the rapper plans to release a new single ahead of the Super Bowl halftime show. According to the publication, his new track could drop Feb. 11, so fans should keep their eyes peeled, as the release could signal a new album to follow.
The rapper’s third and most recent album, Damn, was released in April 2017, became his most successful work to date, and spawned his first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping hit, “Humble.” Featuring collaborations with Rihanna and U2, the body of work was awarded Best Rap Album at the 2018 Grammys and won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Music the same year. Lamar then embarked on both The Damn Tour and record label Top Dawg Entertainment’s Championship Tour in support of the album.
Usually known to take from one and three years between albums, Lamar quickly followed up Damn with the soundtrack for Marvel’s Black Panther in February 2018. Executive produced by the rapper, the superhero film’s accompanying album featured five songs by Lamar, including the Oscar-nominated SZA collaboration “All the Stars” and “King’s Dead” with Jay Rock, Future, and James Blake, which won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance. Fellow TDE artist Isaiah Rashad claimed Lamar was “damn near” finishing his next album in September 2018, but the project never came to fruition.
While he’s continued performing live, most recently at November 2021’s Day N Vegas music festival, Lamar hasn’t released a new, full-length solo project since Damn. However, the rapper offered fans a look into his creative process in August 2021 through the launch of a website titled Oklama, which featured a letter to fans in a folder labeled “nu thoughts.”
“I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts. Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence. I go months without a phone,” Lamar wrote. “Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family. While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next.”
Lamar then teased his next album, which marks the end of his current record deal 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,” continued the letter. “May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.”
Seemingly celebrating the end of his contract, the rapper concluded with a message to his fans: “There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I’ve prayed for you all. See you soon enough.”
To fans’ excitement, Lamar reemerged on the music scene in August 2021 with the release of “Family Ties,” a collaboration with his cousin, rapper Baby Keem. The single appeared on Keem’s The Melodic Blue album, released in September 2021, along with two other Lamar-featuring tracks titled “Range Brothers” and “Vent.”
While Lamar has since been keeping a low profile regarding new music, the Super Bowl halftime show could finally give fans what they’ve been waiting for.