Kendrick Lamar’s new album title serves as both its name and a reaction to itself: “DAMN.” Making its way as Lamar’s fourth studio album, the Compton rapper has proven himself as a great man of equally great skill. Lamar first graced his presence in the mainstream with his first studio album “Overly Dedicated” in 2010. Since then, his work has only progressed more and more, dropping critically acclaimed work left and right, with albums like “Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City” and “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Now, only two years later, we have “DAMN.”
On his intro track “BLOOD.,” Lamar begins by saying, “I was taking a walk the other day...” and immediately the listener is left intrigued with how the story plays out. Thrown into this trance state of rhythmic bass, underlying itself with sounds only relatable to music found in a 70s movie, the track continues as the listener is deep in its throws.
It isn’t until Lamar’s last line of lyrics, “You have lost something/ You’ve lost, your life,” that the listener finds they are shot out of their trance with a pistol round that heeds no warning. On the dreamscape track “YAH.,” all prior scare caused by Lamar may be forgiven, leaving the listener, as Lamar puts it, “buzzin’.” In this track, with a melody that could almost pass as one being played in reverse, Lamar covers a wide variety of topics. From his niece being his muse for life, to speaking out against Fox News who try to name-drop Lamar for profit.
Tying the two together, he says, “Interviews wanna know my thoughts and opinions/ Fox News wanna use my name for percentage/ My latest news is my niece, she worth living/ Seen me on the TV screen, that’s Uncle Kendrick.”
Near the middle of the album, Lamar gives the listener a real gift. Not only a real banger of a track, as it surely is, but also one surely to live on as an anthem for the ages: “HUMBLE.”
“Aye, I remember syrup sandwiches and crime allowances/ Finesse a n**ga with some counterfeits but now I’m countin’ this,” Lamar roars with a cool, calm and collected confidence that oozes from his words and straight into the most deepest pits of the listener’s soul.
Regardless of whether the listener is a connoisseur of rap music or a more frigid, older person who can’t stand it, they’re going to find it far too difficult not to bump this track wherever they find themselves standing, for this is a track that takes the pause button out of the equation. After all, “This that Grey Poupon/ That Evian, that TED Talk,” Lamar raps, signifying this record as one surpassing his rivals to the tune of a piano that’s as equally zealous as K-Dot.
Even if hip-hop or rap music isn’t one’s forte for audible accompaniment, just play a few of the tracks on “DAMN.” even if it’s just in the background of some task at hand. Eventually, some part of some track will entice the listener, forcing the words to be exclaimed from their mouth, leaving them conflicted and only left with one possible thing to say: “DAMN.”