Kendrick Lamar Damn Review
Kung Fu Kenny Drops an album That Makes You Go Damn.
Following on from the jazz inspired TPAB, which I feel was an classic, Kendrick fans were intrigued to see what direction he would take with his album DAMN. Many wondered if he would continue the jazz direction which many argued to lack accessibility ( I heavily disagree with this ) or maybe he would resort back to his more traditional ‘Section 80’ and ‘GKMC’ type sound and with the Mike-Will-produced banger ‘Humble ‘it became clear what direction Kendrick would take.
The album begins with ‘ BlOOD’ where Kendrick tells a parable about him helping an old lady whilst creating suspense similar to a dramatic moment in a movie, where he ends up being shot. Here he is alluding to the idea for helping the wicked and good intentions being misconstrued for evil. Then we hear a warped version of the Fox news article criticising Kendrick song saying ‘Ugh I don’t like it’ and Kendrick responds to the criticisms with the next song ‘DNA’
‘ I got loyalty got royalty inside my DNA’ Kendrick drops a banger that is unapologetically black, responding and ridiculing anyone shaming his heritage and what he stands for. Over this Mike-Will-Made-it production Kendrick had ‘ Kendrick can’t bump in the whip twitter’ stumbling, as he delivered quotable after quotable over this dark instrumental and when you thought he was done the beat switched where Kendrick continues to slay foes. Responding again to Fox News quote ‘This is why I say Hip-Hop has done more damage to black Americans than racism ’ Kendrick replies ‘I would rather die than listen to you’ and ends stereotypes such as (sex, money, drugs our DNA) stating that we are so much more than that serotypes and that can apply to any race.
On Track 3 Kendrick slows down the tempo but he keeps the message just as powerful. On this song Kendrick shows a more reflective side where he ponders on religion, Family and politics while also attacking his foes ‘ Kendrick says: Fox news want to use my name for percentage’ further attacking Fox News for their misuse of his name and also addressing Geraldo outlandish comments where Kendrick responds ‘ someone tell Geraldo this ni**er got some ambition. Kendrick is also addressing religious issue saying ‘I’m an Israelite don’t call me black no more.’
‘ NEW KUNG FU KENNY WHAT HAPPENS ON EARTH STAYS ON EARTH’. If you didn’t know who that was in the intro it was 80’s New York DJ and Mixtape host Kid Capri, showing you Kendrick lives and breathes Hip-Hop . Here Kendrick continues to address the rap game reminding them he’s number one and in a different echelon to all of them and if you think this is just my opinion he says it himself ‘MR 1-5 that’s the only logic fake my death go Cuba that’s the only option ‘. Kendrick also attacks rappers saying last album he tried lift the culture but there’s a difference between ‘ black artist an whack artist’. The production was also highly enjoyable and with the infectious hook this song is in steady rotation.
If we could ever get a page from Kendrick’s diary or see into his deepest thoughts this would be it. On this track, Kendrick has things on his chest, how he is fighting fame and detachment from his family. Kendrick also talks about the pressure he is facing from “industry promises’ and false prophets scheming ‘as he rap in a stream of consciousness style also lets everyone know how everyone expects so much from while he feels he gets nothing in return’ he shows this in line ‘I feel like the whole word wants me to pray for them but who the fuck praying for me‘.
When I saw the track list I was sceptical, I cannot remember the last Rihanna feature I enjoyed but I was pleasantly surprised by this. The melodic instrumentation perfectly complimented both their vocals as they went back and forth on issues of love and trust and as the summer progresses I feel like this could be a radio hit and an summer anthem.
This is definitely one of my favourite songs and further fuels my idea that the Kendrick Tupac comparison is nonsense. The rapper Kendrick is most like is Andre 3000 and this song reminds of ‘She lives in my Lap’ by Andre 3000. Kendrick raps about a perfect world from an idealistic perspective while touching on heart-touching narratives he pours emotions in lines such as ‘ I don’t trust people enough to put my faith in humans.’ Trust is a reoccurring theme in this album and hopefully this is not sign Kendrick will soon go into isolation. The beat was produced by the Interent’s teenage sensation Steve Lacy whose production was previously on J Cole’s ‘ 4 Your Eyez only’ album.
First single off the album and by now you probably know all you need to know about this song. Booming production, catchy lyrics and pretty much what you would expect from a first single. Kendrick touches on some social issues telling women to love themselves and be natural while telling others to sit down and be humble.
This is one of the more creative tracks and again Kendrick channels his inner Andre 3000 where he samples Essex rapper Jordan Candy ‘KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK’ where he pitches up his voice. Kendrick tackles this song from two different perspectives, his and hers where he raps about lust and the trials and tribulation of a young life from male and female perspectives. From the male perspective he raps about money sex and complacency and all the things you shouldn’t do while mirroring the same from an female perspective in the second half but highlights the difference between the two different realities where the female is scamming ‘flexing on the bitches hating on her’ while the man is doing ignorant actions like gambling and ‘ shooting out the window’. In the last half Kendrick reflect on his life and trials and tribulations, ending with him seeing the election news praying it wasn’t true.
Another summer song which is destined for radio. Zacari feature on this song was magical and the melodies on this song where just beautiful, like Loyalty this song is definitely for the radio and summer.
Many fans were sceptical about this song and with the U2 feature it made sense but somehow Kendrick managed to turn a song with U2 to a hard hitting Boom Bap Hip-Hop track where they didn’t feel out of place .Unlike the title the song did not really focus on sex it was more of a song to America and how hard it can be to live in America depending on your situation as detailed with ‘ Johnny ’who K dot raps about. The erratic beat switches, rhyme schemes and attention to detail make this song special.
Probably, Kendrick’s most personal song yet. In the beginning his voice is backwards and he is saying ‘ Why God Why God do I have to suffer’. On Fear, Kendrick channels his fears throughout the years. First, he raps at age 7 where he fears his mother , the repetition of ‘I’ll beat your ass’ symbolises what he fears, Kendrick was scared that every time he steps out of line he will be punished. Age 17 Kendrick fears death and his environment and he ends the verse saying ‘I’ll probably die because that’s what you do at 17’. Age 27 the final verse he talks about more fear and how the success and money leads to more fear and how he is scared to lose it all, spend his money and go into debt and touches Rihanna accountants case ‘ How did the ‘ Bad Gal’ feel when she saw them numbers’. This is not where Kendrick’s fears end he also fears being judged, losing himself and his creativity. Kendrick wishes he could lose his fear and in hook sings ‘if I could smoke fear away ill roll that motherfucker up’ highlighting that we all have fears and insecurities we want elevate from our lives , Kendrick share his own on this song and how he deals with them everyday .
Without a doubt my least favourite song on the album, however it still is not a bad song, Kendrick channels his inner SoundCloud rapper for a song which will appeal to many. To be fair this song has grown on me the more I listen to the album.
‘Who would’ve thought the greatest rapper alive would come from coincidence’. Again hosted by Kid Capri, Duckworth is undoubtedly my favourite song on this album. Here we hear the story between Top Dawg and Kendrick’s father and Kendrick being who he is because Top Dawg Spared his fathers life, had that not have happened Top Dawg would be in jail and Kendrick would have grown up without a father. 9th Wonder’s production made this song all the more magical and the sample of ‘ Atari’ by Hiatus Kaiyote was an wonderful touch and wrapped this album perfect
Many could argue that this album does not break boundaries like his previous two full Length Lp’s did and I agree. However I don’t feel like Kendrick needed to do that again and I feel on this album, he found the perfect medium for all types of Kendrick fans and while this may not be his best album, it certainly is the easiest and most enjoyable to listen to and to many myself included this further fuels Kendrick’s claim to be the greatest off all time; 4 albums now all considered great. Kendrick may not be the best off all time yet but if you think he is you now have enough to argue your case, most greats do not have 4 amazing bodies of work they can stand by Kendrick does.
4.7 stars out of 5
What did you think of Damn? and where does Kendrick rank in your all-time list.
Let us know down below.
Written by Mags @sam_magss