KUMD Album Review: Kendrick Lamar

Apr 26, 2017

Kendrick Lamar | DAMN.

Rapper and wordsmith, Kendrick Lamar graces the radio waves once again with his fourth studio album DAMN. After To Pimp a Butterfly’s Earth shattering success, Kendrick’s fan base can let out a breath of relief knowing the prolific writer’s pen has barely scratched the surface of his genius.

“BLOOD.” sets the scene as an anecdote for the damnation Kendrick struggles with throughout the album. “Is it wickedness? Is it weakness? You decide are we gonna live or die.” If To Pimp a Butterfly was his political commentary, DAMN. is its religious counterpart. An old parable spun into a refurbished encounter with a blind woman in the streets, Kendrick gives a glimpse into the duality of his music. His words reach everyone, just like a helping hand, but you cannot decide how smoothly those words go down. The blind woman whom he tried to help fires a gun at him, much like the comments fired from Fox News anchors against the lyrics from “Alright” on police brutality.

“DNA.” bursts in with the machine gun delivery Kendrick has come to be known for. “I got, I got, I got, I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA, cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA.” It’s a call back to good kid m.A.A.d city with a lyrical depth that showcases Kendrick’s metamorphosis over the past five years.

Having overcome his struggles with Lucy, Kendrick is faced with a new foe, himself. His success is short lived as he dangles between hubris and humility Confliction drives the album, as is seen in “PRIDE.” and “HUMBLE.” “LUST.” and “LOVE.” To live the life of the rapper stereotype or be something more? Kendrick challenges himself and peers throughout these tracks.

“XXX. FEAT. U2” seems to be the meeting point between To Pimp a Butterfly and DAMN. the political and religious meld into one as Kendrick muses over the past two years. “Hail Mary, Jesus and Joseph, the great American flag is wrapped and dragged with explosives […] homicidal thoughts; Donald Trump's in office we lost Barack and promised to never doubt him again. But is America honest, or do we bask in sin?”

DAMN. digs deep into Kendrick’s character. Closing out his fourth album with “Duckworth,” the origin story of K-DOT comes out. A beautiful narrative of his father’s ending and possibly Kendrick’s beginning unfolds. It only makes sense that the track loops back to the album’s first song “BLOOD.” as it fades out, “So I was takin’ a walk the other day…”

Kendrick Lamar’s cup runneth over. A man of many talents who refuses to be silenced as he spills insight, DAMN. is another triumphant commentary on himself and society.