Kendrick Lamar. What can you say about Kendrick that hasn’t already been said? He’s one of the most prolific artists on this planet and since his debut studio album, “Section.80,” dropped in 2011 he has been a relentless force in music. He hopped on the scene and almost immediately garnered comparisons to West coast hip-hop legends like 2pac, so it was no surprise when him and Dr. Dre connected on Kendrick’s now immortalized project, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.” In addition to the countless number of beats that he’s left in body bags over the years, often killing rappers on their own songs, he’s also gone on world tours, opened for The Yeezus Tour, and was publicly praised by President Obama. He took an experimental and slightly controversial step in 2015 with “To Pimp a Butterfly,” the groovy infusion of hard hitting rap and Jazz. When 2017 rolled around and it was announced that he would be headlining Coachella, the music industry took notice and knew the K Dot storm would soon be approaching.
The storm came suddenly with the release of “The Heart Part 4,” in which he mercilessly rips through a beat calling out the hip-hop community, mainly an unnamed rapper many believed to be Big Sean. Kendrick was back and although this track served as more of a “Your Uber Is Now Arriving” type purpose, it was clear he was back to that classic Kendrick rap that many fans missed on a wide selection of tracks on “Butterfly.” Shortly thereafter arrived “Humble,” one of the LA native’s most hard-hitting track to date. The cover art featured Kendrick in a priest’s robe and set the religious theme for his album that would later follow. “Humble” has an incredible and attention-grabbing beat produced by Mike-Will-Made-It and Kendrick uses this beat to ironically preach about being humble, but it works perfectly.
The album opens with the ridiculously hard “DNA,” in which he samples a segment of Fox News where they are discussing their dislike for Kendrick’s statements on police brutality. It serves as the perfect introduction to “DAMN,” a project in which Kendrick takes the listener on an emotional roller coaster through the inner canals of his mind. One of my favorite cuts off the album comes in the form of “ELEMENT,” a record that truly sounds like it will stand the test of time as a classic Kendrick joint. On the song, Kendrick assures us that he is sitting at the top of the industry and is not only in the top 5, but feels as if he could occupy all five slots with lines like “Mr. One through Five, that’s the only logic.” It’s easy to claim your loyalty and dedication to your craft, but on this song Kendrick takes it a step further and tells us that he’s “Willin to die for this shit/I done cried for this shit, might take a life for this shit,” and it’s hard not to believe him. It’s a theme that is relevant throughout the entire tape, whether on extremely personal and passionate tracks like “FEEL” and “FEAR,” or on melodic low-key cuts like “LOVE,” it seems as if Kendrick put everything he had into this record.
On “DAMN,” the song titles represent some of the most dominant themes in society today from “LOVE,” “LUST,” and “PRIDE,” but on each song we get to hear how Kendrick deals with each one. It’s almost worth writing a review by doing a track by track breakdown of each song because each song is so “damn” important, not just in Kendrick’s personal growth, but also in affirming his relationship with his fans. “Good Kid” is still my favorite Kendrick album, but after listening to “DAMN” numerous times I feel as if I know him better than I did before. The album ends with “DUCKWORTH,” the extremely coincidentally story about how Top Dawg planned to rob a KFC that Kendrick’s dad, Ducky, worked at and although this robbery could have resulted in Ducky’s death, it was his kindness that persuaded Top to decide against committing the robbery. Many years later Top signed Kendrick to TDE and it’s eye-opening revelations like this that leave us with one thing to say at the conclusion of the album: DAMN.
Check out more from them here: CHAOTIC BASS
COVER PHOTO: BILLBOARD
Make sure to check Kendrick out at VOODOO Music & Arts Experience This Friday 10/27! Listen to our Voodoo Hype Playlist on Spotify: THE CRESCENT MAG SPOTIFY CHANNEL