Kendrick Lamar – Damn
Kendrick Lamar is part of the upper echelon of rappers who make the whole rap world stand still when they drop an album. His most recent release sets a benchmark that other artists will be compared to for the rest of the year. Damn, the fourth studio record from Lamar follows the critically acclaimed and Grammy-winning To Pimp a Butterfly.
If TPAB was an experimental rap album, then Damn is undeniably more accessible sonically; the production here is more radio ready. Lead single Humble is produced by Mike WiLL Made-It and sounds like it could have fitted on a Big Sean or Rae Sremmurd record. Loyalty is a breezy, happy song with an infectious hook from Rihanna, who makes a standout appearance. DNA finds Kendrick Lamar rapping over an aggressive and hard-hitting trap beat and is easily one of the strongest tracks on the album. Love and Lust are further evidence that this songwriter can make hits with so much ease.
Damn is radio friendly but lyrically, like its predecessors, it’s still an exploration of the world through the eyes of Kendrick Lamar Duckworth. On Feel, the rapper is introspective, confronting his own paranoia and anxiety; with Fear, he details various stages of fear throughout his life. In an earlier interview in March, the artist suggested that his then forthcoming album would heavily reference God. It probably doesn’t reference God as much as initial speculation suggested it would – quite a few people thought he would make a rap/gospel record like Chance the Rapper – but throughout Damn, there are several explorations of religious concepts, especially on Pride.
Lamar is clearly not trying to match the musical complexity of TPAB, and technically this latest release is closer to Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, but it still highlights an evolution in sound and a willingness to push boundaries. The album validates the Compton rapper’s prowess as a terrific writer and musician who can still offer insightful social commentary on racism, gang violence and African American poverty. He still incorporates his love of old funk and jazz sounds, albeit to a lesser extent, but the veering into trap and more poppy sounds does raise an interesting question of where Damn will rank in his discography. Damn has the hit songs you can draw from, but still makes for an impressive project to listen to in its entirety.
Photo: Christian San for Top Dawg Entertainment
Damn is released on 14th April 2017, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Humble here: