Good Friday was the release date of Kendrick Lamar’s newest album, DAMN. and if you know anything about Lamar, you’ll know it was no coincidence. The self-proclaimed greatest rapper alive is always weaving symbols, metaphors and allusions into his intricate rhymes and somehow manages on top of all of that to make it sound good too. Having been a fan of Kendrick since 2012 (can’t quite say since the beginning but I did hop on the bandwagon pretty early on) he has been constantly growing while staying true to his roots.
He begins with establishing his origins in Compton, Calif. and how the city shaped him, especially in “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” and then moves outward to define many issues, primarily racism, in 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and in his latest album, “DAMN.,” he addresses these culminating issues and comes full circle in many of the themes of TPAB, while still remaining true to his roots. Keep in mind, when it comes to Kendrick, I could write pages and pages because there is so much to his work and since many people might not have time for that (or to listen to the whole album), I’ll give highlights of five songs in the album that are must-listens. Also, the album really is presented in a story format, so if you do have the time, I would definitely recommend listening to the whole thing start to finish because these songs don’t capture the majesty of the whole narrative.
- “ELEMENT.” : This is just one of those songs that reminds us that “Kung Fu Kenny” is the best in the game. This song captures his journey in a realistic point of view, highlighting the hardships that broke him and then rebuilt him to the point where he is now. The flow and style of his classic breezy, west coast vibe gives us the impression that he makes it look so easy.
- “LOYALTY.” : Kendrick’s collaboration with Rihanna is bound to hit the radio soon and it not only sounds super cool and laid back, but also shows where Kendrick’s priorities are. It essentially shows that Kendrick puts loyalty and actions above other’s words and intentions.
- “HUMBLE.” : This single was released before the album and not just because it has a catchy beat – it is basically a snapshot of the entire album in one song. It has biblical references, which contrast his memories of vice and his dark past. It is a more high-key sound than his usual songs, showing his range in style and specifically, how he can still kill the game.
- “LOVE.” : I dare say, but this song kind of reminds me of Drake. Not in a bad way – I know everyone loves to put Drake down, but as far as style, lyrics and theme choice, this track is right up Drake’s alley.
- “GOD.” : So if “LOVE.” was Kendrick-goes-Drake, this song definitely is in Kanye’s territory as far as the theme. Kanye often compares himself to a God, and references the Bible in his raps, but Kendrick takes a different take on this. He definitely acknowledges his success and how he could be like God, but at the same time, he admits to pride and vice and in the end, is humbled before God.
Lastly, if you like this album, check out these:
ALBUM: “All-Amerikkkan Bada$$” by Joey Bada$$
ARTIST: J. Cole
SONG: “Black Spiderman” by Logic