Kendrick done did it again! It is known—when he stands to say something, we all purposefully stop what we’re doing and make it a point to listen. And since the release of “To Pimp a Butterfly,” he has earned every bit of our attention. our past experiences with the 2015 album. Lamar has yet to show a sliver of fear when it comes to talking about the real-life issues America is facing— and we hang on to every single word. He’s destroying rivals on cameo, performing the #blacklivesmatter anthem on top of police cars or reminding current president what his role is on social media, ha!
Released on April 14th by Top Dawg Entertainment, in “DAMN.” the story-telling continues to be his mission. And he’s only gotten better at it. His words have radically revolutionized the rap scene with songs like Pride, opening the conversation of love, race, religion, and prison systems.
“Race barriers make inferior of you and I. see, in a perfect world, I’d choose faith over riches. I’ll choose work over bithces, id make schools out of prison. I’ll take all the religions and put ‘em all in one service..”
“Love’s gonna get you killed, but pride’s gonna be the death of you;” “It was always me versus the world/Until I found it’s me versus me.”
“Damn.” rings best in these jab hitting spaces and creates a lovely lag of sorts somewhere towards the center with loosen concepts such as “Loyalty.” With Rihanna, which has all the qualities of a radio mainstream for the 2017 summer. Providing low risks as the mainstream platform demands— it’s also always entertaining hearing Rih-rih rap.
“Lust.” with its pulsating beat and background echoes, English accents and speedy lyrics make for an embellished anthem with the familiar Kendrick sewn up orchestra.
“Love.” immediately made the album an oxymoron of sounds, Featuring Zachari falsettos. So different than what we’re used to hearing, but surely opening the ears of new Lamar fans to come
The albums’ few ballad like pieces succumb to what surrounds them. The eclectic bounce of “HUMBLE.,” the battle chant of “DNA.,” and mild metal of “XXX.” show Kendrick in his element, fast and lucid, like Eazy-E with college credits and Mike WiLL beats.
The production is flexed and snug and clean, but wildly constructed, often splicing two or three loops into a track and swaying between tempos, closer in relation to good kid, m.A.A.d city’s siren-synths than Butterfly’s brass solos.
If he was “black as the moon” on his last album, he’s a chameleon here, refusing to identify himself by the shade of his skin but fluent in the contents of his D.N.A. Butterfly floated along to soften its scathing stance—“We hate po-po” sounds better over a smooth saxophone—but with so many “wack artists” in play, what’s the reward for up-lift-ment?
He bobs in and out of this perspective, but the repeated pledges to loyalty and martyrdom evoke the life and mind of a young gang member who carries his neighborhood flag because no one’s proved to him that he shouldn’t.
Still, the album exists for “DUCKWORTH.” It’s the final piece of the TDE puzzle, a homegrown label of Compton natives that happened to deliver the best rapper of his generation. If we’re to believe the song’s last gunshot—and its seamless loop back to track one—much of “DAMN.” is written from the perspective of Lamar who grew up without a father to guide him away from the sinful temptations outside his home.