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Album Review: DAMN.
Album Review: DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
April 26, 2017
On April 14th, critically acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar released his fourth studio album, DAMN. The album, which was released two years after his previous album To Pimp a Butterfly, has gained massive critical acclaim and pushed the lead single “Humble” to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
The record follows the same style as Kendrick’s past albums, with a complex story or concept throughout the album. Unlike his previous album, To Pimp a Butterfly, this album’s sound does not contain jazz rap beats. DAMN. is reminiscent in sound to good kid m.A.A.d city with hard rap beats. With Mike Will Made-It as producer on most songs, this style makes sense.
The album’s concept is centered around the insecurities Kendrick is battling as a major rap star, and how he views today’s world. This theme has similar elements to the theme of To Pimp a Butterfly, but ultimately is distinctly unique. The last album dealt with Kendrick becoming closer to god and his religion, whereas this album dealt with him questioning his faith. This is portrayed on tracks such as “Element” and “Feel”, where Kendrick states, “Ain’t nobody praying for me.”
The album begins with Kendrick being shot by a blind woman on the track “Blood”. This represents a concept from the bible, and the blind woman is the representation of the damned. The song is followed by “DNA” which is in my opinion one of the best tracks on the album. Kendrick raps about his culture as an African American and what this means in today’s world. As the album continues, there are certain songs which relate themselves to the album’s concept less than others. These include “Yah”, and “Duckworth”. However, “Duckworth” tells a story which connects Kendrick’s current manager and his father. After “DNA”, K-Dot continues the album with “Element” in which he talks about his dedication to rap, “Feel” in which he delivers a stream of consciousness which shows his current struggles, and “Loyalty” which features Rihanna. The latter song builds on the idea of a loyal relationship. He continues with “Pride” and the albums lead single, “Humble”. The themes of each song conflict with each other, which is why places them back to back. He follows this with two more contradicting songs, “Lust” and “Love”. The following song, “XXX”, features U2 and takes a unique look at current day America and the issues in our society. The next song, “Fear”, ties all of the records concepts together. Kendrick speaks on three different ages, and the fears he experiences at 7, 17, and 27. In one verse, he ties together all the songs and he describes how they all contribute to his fears and insecurities. In similar fashion to his concluding songs on other albums, such as “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” and “Mortal Man”, Kendrick uses the song to draw the message of the project together. He does so masterfully and completes another amazing album.
I think DAMN. is an amazing piece of work; however, it is not my favorite album of his. I believe that good kid, m.A.A.d city will always be my favorite, with To Pimp a Butterfly as a close second. However, DAMN. is in itself an amazing record, and I believe has more value than other works of his such as Section .80 and untitled, unmastered, which featured left over tracks from To Pimp a Butterfly. Either way, DAMN. is still a great Kendrick Lamar album, and the King of the West Coast has proven, yet again, that his creativity and artistic development is far from over.