Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
Well god damn. I've been saying for some time now that Hip Hop is having a moment and that is no clearer than on this new record from Kendrick Lamar DAMN.. This record is all out, no holds barred with few getting any pardons from Kendrick. He sounds angry and for good reason as He sees the world that is crumbling around him. Kendrick's past two records To Pimp a Butterfly and untitled, unmastered. were both stellar but showcased a different side of Kendrick, still politically charged but palpable. He had enough shock in his tracks to be condemned by Fox News, a clip of which He proudly features early on this record, but this record feels like He wanted to push it further and harder. The art around the album also evokes rage from the music video for "HUMBLE." to the fact that all the tracks are in all caps with periods at the end saying Kendrick will be having the last word on these matters. Even "ELEMENT." which begins sweetly enough descends into this tirade at the end like a dragon that even Kendrick cannot contain. The more pop centered tracks like the collaboration with Rihanna still bang just as hard and "LOYALTY." in particular has one of the more interesting beats on the record. You'll also notice a few Kid Capri DJ drops sprinkled throughout the record yet instead of sounding dated or like mixtapes of old with shoutout after fucking shoutout, this feels more like a nod to the past while still looking forward to the future.
Absent from the record is Kendrick's lead single "The Heart Part 4", which is actually a good thing. This track just would never fit with this record. "HUMBLE." drops like a ton of bricks and is clearly the stand out song on the record. The Mike Wil-Made-It beat is absolutely fantastic and another feather in the super producer's cap. "LUST." on the other hand which has assists from Kaytranada and Kamasi Washington is a psychedelic journey through the life of a young man in Los Angeles. This song could easily have been heavy handed or got into territory that has been discussed over and over, but the psychedelic bend makes it incredibly special and it just sails by. "LOVE." is the first time we get a more vulnerable side of Kendrick but, he is quick to flip the scrip on "XXX." which features U2 but in a very subtle non rap-rock collaboration at all. It is certainly two different songs from beginning to end, but they work together so very well. "FEAR." takes the anxiety to a whole other level chronicling the life of an abused child in the inner city, it could be biographical but Kendrick doesn't let us know. Kendrick is really making a play for one of the greatest rappers of all time and this album will be yet another pedestal for him to stand on, while the rest of us will have to "sit down" and be "humble".
9.3 out of 10