Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Since 2011’s Section.80, Kendrick Lamar has been on the radar as a highly anticipated artist. In 2012, his sophomore album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” immediately proved to the world that he was here to stay. That album itself sparked many conversations that considered Kendrick to be the greatest rapper alive.

Following his sophomore album, he proved he didn’t have to release another album until one of the “world’s greatest verses” was released in 2013 on Big Sean’s “Control.” He went in with so much rage and aggression ringing off verses detailing why he is the best rapper ever. Kendrick even mentioned specific names such as Jay-Z and Drake saying how much love he has for them while he’s still here to “murder” them lyricaly. The media went into a worldwide frenzy as Kendrick, by far, had the best verse in that song.

Two years later, his highly anticipated third album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” was released. For that album, Kendrick touched on many social injustices such as police brutality and white privilege. From the reception of that album, K-Dot’s fan base grew even more as he knocked down every wall that the music industry exhibited whether it was commercial success or just creating his own lane. And then there was “DAMN.”

“DAMN.,” Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album, is by far his best album to date. The title “DAMN.” itself is self-explanatory after listening because every single track compels you to say that exact word. Kendrick is doing everything on his own terms on this album and is proving he’s not in any box that the world tries to put him in.

The album’s intro, “BLOOD,” gets right to the point as he explains how he’s trying to help a blind woman and during the process of trying to help, he’s shot.

“Is it wickedness? Is it weakness? You decide.”

The underlying bass that plays in the background allows you to imagine that you are a part of the story and the gunshot right at the end of the song gives you the immediate impression that the album is going to be real.

In the next track, “DNA,” produced by Mike Will Made It, Kendrick explains everything that he’s made of and talks about the opinions that many people have about him. The hard beats that Mike Will produced allows us to hear Kendrick’s frustration and aggression about what so many people have to say about him. Even in the video, he treats it as if it’s a motion picture, recruiting Don Cheadle to play an interrogator.

Just when you think the song is over, a sample from an old interview from Geraldo Rivera says, “This is why I say hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years.”

Right after that, an even harder beat starts to play and Kendrick raps about how he’s not changing for anyone. His tone is way more aggressive and he’s approaching every type of media that thinks he should change his actions, without any remorse. Immediately after, the track “YAH” follows, and Kendrick is giving complete vibes. He’s giving you that West Coast sound that reminds you of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. The smoth beats make you feel as if you’re just “cruisin’ down the street in your 6-4.” When it comes to his diction, Kendrick’s dragging his words out as if he has just woke up.

The story conveyed throughout the song carries a message. The word “YAH” is related to religion and the “Book of Deuteronomy” and how one must not disobey God. That goes to show that the next son, “ELEMENT,” is going to have an even deeper meaning. “ELEMENT” takes you through a journey as Kendrick explains every reason why he would die for his success and is willing to work harder than anyone without being taken off his square.

Kendrick mentions multiple times throughout the album “nobody praying for me,” meaning he feels a sense of neglect coming from everyone that supposedly loves him. But he won’t let that deter him from achieving his goals. Right after that, just when you thought that Kendrick had no features on the album, RiRi assists him with a friendly track titled “LOYALTY.” With Bruno Mars ’24k Magic’ being sampled throughout the song, the raw bass and smooth synth leads keep your attention while listening to this hit. RiRi helps Kendrick with the chorus as they harmonize the words “loyalty, loyalty, loyalty.”

Even though K-Dot keeps his cool with his hard-hitting verse about the rules of loyalty, Rihanna surprises the world with not one, but two rap verses talking about how she’s never switched up. After you listen to those two A-list artists team up, the album’s single “HUMBLE” is shortly after. While being #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, the song starts out saying “nobody pray for me” once again.

Repeating the words “Be humble, sit down” in the hook, Kendrick throws submliminal jabs at everyone that he feels is arrogant. He’s reminding the world of how much he’s struggled before success and how you have to remember where you came from. His aggression on this second Mike Will produced track is definitely head-nodding. Then, in order to calm you down from all of the anger he feels, he reminds you that everything is all out of “LOVE” featuring up-and-coming singer, Zacari.

The song is a surprise to the world solely based on the fact that Kendrick Lamar never shows us any vulnerability. With Zacari singing the word love in his falsetto, Kendrick comes with a very humble verse explaining the kind of unconditional love he’s setting. The love-making beat with a very sensual undertone of snaps causes you to literally fall in love with it.

The album is something to go down in history as one of the best albums ever. Kendrick constantly proves why he’s the greatest as he reinvents himself with every album with a new direction, message and style of rap.

Jihaad Sprowal-Nash is a third-year student majoring in communications with a journalism minor. They can be reached at JS824786@wcupa.edu.

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