I would like to begin this review by saying I have never before yesterday, ever heard a Kendrick Lamar song in my life that I am aware of. I was actually recommended it by a friend. This is due to me not being too huge into modern hip hop, the only hip hop I listen to is Death Grips, NWA, and all of the solo artists that came from NWA. However, this new Kendrick Lamar album “Damn” is actually really fantastic, in fact this album is so good that for now on I will be making an active attempt to dig deeper into hip hop from this decade, so expect many more review from me that are recent and relevant, (although I am a few weeks late to this album as well.)
Now to get into the actual review of the album’s contents. This album will instantly catch your eye with it’s creative tracklist. Every track name on this album is only one word, in all capital letters, followed my a period at the end, which also directly relates to the album art’s style of the album’s title “DAMN.” This dynamic of the creative tracklist is relevant because the album really flows in a straight line from the start of the album to the finish of the album, beginning and ending with a literal gunshot bang. I really love the brilliant use of production on this album. Despite Lamar taking on a wide arrange of producers on the album, everything still fits well and all is as should be. Due to this wide arrange of producers you have different styles and contradicting moods from song to song while still managing to stay on topic with the album, which is very difficult to pull off and must have required days and days of planning and collaboration on Lamar’s part. Expanding upon this, the repeated phrases on this album that reappear often throughout are very pleasing and just shows hard work and dedication to song crafting. All the phrases are relatively quotable as well, you have “Ain’t no body prayin’ for me.” and “NEW KUNG FU KENNY!” which are the most prevalent terms. You also will find recurring themes of God and being humble throughout this album, which is interesting. None of the choruses on this album come off as half complete, lazy, or repetitive, and no song on this album feels like it really over stays it’s welcome either.
Kendrick Lamar’s use of sampling and is fairly unique based on the few other nameless hip hop artists I have heard here and there out in public. The sampling is also what really pulls this album together, Lamar samples a Fox News news report about himself at the beginning of the album on the opening track “BLOOD.”, which then with no breather or silence between tracks just explodes into “DNA.”, a song which when I first heard instantly drew me deeper into this album, also samples a Fox News report that is relevant to the song and album’s theme. The song “HUMBLE.” is a high peak on this album and is absolutely incredible, the beat is great, the verses have this flow that has a superior vibe to them, and Lamar even manages to sing about body positivity on this track. This being said, I was not TOO fond of the track “LOVE.”, I felt like the song’s chorus and the guest on this song just felt short, and due to my personal music tastes, I just didn’t dig it. I guess if the album did have a black sheep it would most definitely be “LOVE.”. The track that follows “LOVE.” is “XXX.”, which is another favorite of mine on this album, has many tempo style and changes throughout the song, causing it to never have a dull moment. The song “XXX.” also interestingly features the rock band U2 and they actually fit very well into this song and the overall album and Bono’s verse “Its not a place, / This country is to me a sound of drum and bass, / You have to close your eyes to look around.” is excellent.
Now there are some bits and pieces of this album I didn’t really get down with as much as other parts, however, these parts are also parts that I know for sure will grow on me with repeated listens, so my overall rating of this album will not suffer due to this. This album connects from start to finish in a cycle and Kendrick Lamar seems to have put a lot of hard work, talent, emotions, and intelligence into this album.
Release Date: 2017
Genres: Hip Hop, Conscious Hip Hop.
Track Highlights: DNA., HUMBLE., LUST., XXX., DUCKWORTH.
i. e. 8.6/10