By Ray White
The title of Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album may just be properly named for the reaction it evokes in those who have the chance to listen to it. Fusing his unique hypnotic wordplay with tracks of varying intensity and carefully placed similes, Lamar creates yet another album that must be listened to repeatedly to fully grasp what he is trying to convey.
On April 14, Lamar released his fourth studio album titled “DAMN,” just a year after releasing his critically acclaimed album “Untitled Unmastered.”
The hype following this album was at an all-time high, especially after Lamar released one of the songs from the album by the name of “Humble” with a video, and weeks before that released a track called “The Heart Part IV.” And in pure Lamar fashion, he neglected making an album about the luxuries of being a Grammy winning/ nominated artist, and one of the most successful rappers of this generation.
He instead focused on racial injustice in America, the struggles and outcomes of growing up in impoverished areas, and the wants and needs we all either strive for or try to overcome. Upon first listening, the album entices its listeners with smooth beats, melodious monologues/ballads and just raw hip-hop flow and beats. Yet the album really begins to show its magic once it is continuously listened to.
The whole album is actually one story about Lamar and his struggles, which he conveys by utilizing tracks named after emotions or feelings then connects them to experiences in his life or events in society. In many cases these struggles and feelings correlate on a larger scale connecting every track to its audience.
Each track on the album is named after a single word, and the lyrics highlight each word amazingly while also dissecting complex emotions with ease. Then, by the time you arrive to the last track of the album, “DUCKWORTH,” you realize the character you had been following throughout the album (Lamar) is killed and the album reverses and restarts. Detailing how even in death things always come full- circle and occur again.
There are only 3 people featured on the album, those being Rhianna, U2 and Zacari, but that does not take away from this album in slightest. Not only is this album extremely quotable, but it is also applicable to life itself, and that relatability is what makes it so great.
This album proves Lamar is an artist that continuously
gets better with age, which is rare, especially nowadays when hip-hop artists are rated on relevancy and popularity rather than skill. This album will prove to those who are fans of hip-hop that substance will always trump rap clichés, and those who are not huge fans of rap should give this album a try and truly listen to what it tells its audience.
This album gets 4 “DAMN’s” out of 4 and will most definitely become a hip- hop classic.