The 5 Greatest Moments on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’
In 2017, hip-hop’s cup has runneth over with hot releases from high-profile artists like Future and Drake. The latest top-tier artist to return to the forefront is Kendrick Lamar, currently rap’s preeminent lyricist. With two years having passed since 2015s To Pimp a Butterfly, the anticipation surrounding his return was at a crescendo in late March, and it reached a fever pitch after Kendrick announced that he was gearing up to release a new album. While the details surrounding the album were sparse, the king from Compton was expected to present a body of work that was worth the wait, and Kendrick did not fail to deliver, turning in what is being hailed as one of the year’s best effort so far in DAMN.[/caption]
Comprised of 14 songs, DAMN. is a stark contrast from the vibe of Kendrick’s past studio albums, and finds the rapper charting new territory, a constant in his tenure as one of rap’s elite. An evocative look at his inner conflict and ever-changing spirituality, DAMN. finds Kendrick Lamar revealing bits and pieces of his past, present, and future; at times he’s at his most confrontational; but more often, this is Kendrick Lamar once again going inward. DAMN. continues Kendrick’s knack for dissecting his world through his own troubled spirit, and the album plays as a complete statement. Here are some of the most compelling moments from DAMN.
K.Dot goes for dolo throughout much of the album’s 14 tracks, here he teams up with rockers U2 (mostly via a distorted guest vocal from frontman Bono) who add a bit of melancholy to “XXX.” Opening with Bono droning “America, God bless ya if its good to ya,” things quickly shift into aggression. “Throw a steak off the ark to a pool full of sharks, he’ll take it/Leave him in the wilderness with a sworn nemesis, he’ll make it,” Kendrick raps over the snares before offering murderous advice to a friend whose child has been killed, during which the beat transitions into an intense soundscape, complete with police sirens and other guitars riffs. Produced by Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, DJ Dahi, Sounwave & Mike WiLL Made-It.
“DNA” is an aggressive offering that sees Kendrick doling out a string of couplets that announce his arrival in grand fashion. Produced By Mike WiLL Made-It, the raucous number features Kendrick strutting: “I was born like this, since one like this, Immaculate conception/I transform like this, perform like this, was Yeshua’s new weapon. In the vein of past offerings like “Backseat Freestyle” and “Hood Politics,” “DNA.” sets the tone on DAMN. immediately.
Among the heavier tunes on DAMN. is “FEEL,” a song that finds the rapper coming face to face with his fears and the man in the mirror. Produced By Sounwave, this sample-based standout is filled with poignant admissions from the TDE franchise player, with boastful musings peppered in between, and plays to the terse lyricist’s strength of political prowess. Rhyming “I feel like a chip on my shoulders/I feel like I’m losin’ my focus/I feel like I’m losin’ my patience/I feel like my thoughts in the basement” and lamenting his lack of spiritual and emotional support, Kendrick Lamar is in a state of isolation.
Th groovy stylings of Steve Lacy on bass compliments Kendrick Lamar’s drowsy delivery on “PRIDE.,” one of the more sonically ambitious soundscapes on DAMN. Produced by Bēkon, Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith & Steve Lacy, “PRIDE.” taps into the funky sensibilities that dominated To Pimp a Butterfly, but remains unique in its own right, and is a sneakily addictive outing on DAMN.
When Kendrick Lamar released “The Heart Pt. 4,” many wondered where the beat from the second portion of the song had originated from and whether or not it would be included on his album. It turns out that those hopes have proven to be true, as the instrumental is the same on that kicks off “FEAR.,” arguably the pinnacle of King Kendrick’s long-awaited follow up to To Pimp a Butterfly. Produced By The Alchemist, “FEAR.” is a layered standout that includes several revelations pertaining to Kendrick’s personal life, ranging from childhood memories to recent concerns that run rampant in his mind. A testament to the good kid from Compton’s brilliance, “FEAR.” is a tutorial in vivid imagery and overall excellence, in general.