Happy Friday. Happy 4/14/17. Happy Kendrick Lamar Day.
Last night, Kendrick released his fourth studio album DAMN. and the internet collectively rejoiced. It opens with a George Clinton snippet, “Is it wickedness? Is it weakness? You decide.” setting an ominous tone for rest of the album. What follows is a story of Kenny helping a blind woman who ends up shooting him. It’s an unsettling introduction to an incredible hour-long journey that wanders from well-tread tales of gunplay and dust-ups with police to recounting lusty run-ins and loud angry boasts. Despite this range of lyrical content, Kendrick returns time and again to lament the rank uncertainty of our current sociopolitical climate. He’s like the political and cultural pundit millennials have always needed. I’ve listened through DAMN. twice now and I can already say with confidence it will land very, very high on my “Best Albums of 2017” post in eightish months. Someone on Reddit (or maybe it was
Someone on Reddit (or maybe it was Anthony Fantano) predicted that this album would be Kendrick’s “banger album” and that assessment isn’t too far off base. Tracks like DNA., ELEMENT., HUMBLE., and XXX. bang with an undeniable booming club-friendly bass aesthetic that will play well anywhere – your car, house stereo, or ear buds. But sprinkled in amongst this head-bobbing, stankface-inducing heat are some more reserved and introspective rap songs about mortality (FEAR.), love (LOVE.), life choices (GOD.), and intimate emotions (LUST.) – a variety of rap song that is becoming increasingly rare in the genre. And the ones that do exist are delivered with an insufferable level of corniness that Kendrick somehow strips away so effortlessly.
Regardless of your personal opinion of Kendrick Lamar, it is becoming increasingly hard to deny his talent and consistency. Damn. is Kendrick pouring yet another thick layer of cement around the flag he has planted in claiming to be contemporary hip-hop’s most prolific and talented rhyme sayer.
Favorites: HUMBLE., XXX., DNA.
Least Fave: GOD., FEAR.
Anyway, I didn’t have a full collection of songs to put together this week, especially after spending most of the last week curating that ATL playlist. SO here’s DAMN. in its entirety instead.
PS: I gushed about the video for “HUMBLE.” a couple Fridays ago, and I would recommend watching it again if you haven’t already. And if you have seen it, just go watch it again. That video deserves a trillion views. It’s perfect.