Music

Kendrick Lamar Album Review (Part 1 of 2?)

To say I wasn’t hyped for the release of Damn would be to say nothing at all. I’m not a hardcore fan of Kendrick in the way I’m not a hardcore fan of any artist or band; I love good music, but I don’t go as far as watching every single interview and reading every single thread in their subreddit*. This, though, might have been one of the few exceptions. How could it not be? When an artist comes in with an immaculately produced, lyrically rich, conceptually unique debut album then follows it up with an even deeper/better album you become a fan. It’s that or your taste is nonexistent.

Don’t kill the messenger.

I was HYPED for this album.

Humble Heart

So, after Heart came out, everybody started talking about the “cold war” between Drake and Kendrick. I wasn’t really following that, but the closing half of that song made it sound like maybe some jabs were thrown Drake’s way? IDK. Maybe?

But then Humble came out (and stayed on repeat for 48 hours, ask my girlfriend) and all of a sudden I was expecting a whole album with the bravado and sound and “shots fired” of his“Control” verse.

And then

DAMN. comes out

Man, my Friday absolutely sucked. It was a terrible day, a shitshow, but this album… MMMMMMMM this album. I was listening to it in the morning and was tempted to live-tweet the whole experience. I mean… this album.

Okay, it’s not what GKMC or TPAB was, but K-Dot has done enough, he can make a regular album with 🔥 tracks, good rhymes, great lines, and that’d be enough.

Even just as a “regular album” this is some next-level shit. Rihanna’s on it (does she ever stop work-work-work-work-working?), the lyrics are great, the production is great, and I like how there’s a bunch of messages that echo throughout the album.

There’s the “nobody pray for me” line that comes up several times; the general theme of death, god, and redemption; the fact that many words/ songs/ the-entire-album gets rewinded. It’s definitely a hint to something (more on that later).

Disclaimer: I’m only just getting into this whole “album review” thing. IDK if it’s a thing all “music writers” (🤢 barf) experience, but I have a  problem listening to albums. I always start drifting off and thinking about my own thing by the second half. So like, the first half of this album (pre Humble) is 9/10, but I’m still trying to formulate my thoughts on the second half. Bear that in mind as you read this.)

I feel like the first half of this album is way stronger than the second half. There’s DNA, Element, Loyalty, and Humble.

DNA just goes hard. I think it’s the absolute perfect intro track to an album like this. I’ll talk about Element later. Loyalty is great, because Rihanna is a gem, and the lyrics are 💣. Humble is the album’s lead single, and it’s going to be played regularly on my commutes to work for years to come. If I ever have a car, this is something I’m gonna BLAST to educate the plebs in Kyiv and let them know what great music sounds like.

The middle (Lust, Love, XXX) seems kind of slow and not exciting? I’m not a fan of the whole thing about Trump. I feel like if you’re gonna go there, it should be a stronger statement? Then again, it’s not that it’s strong enough, it’s just… I know he could potentially do better.

Fear, and Duckworth though.

I feel like Fear is a great story. It’s a journey through a character’s life and mind, and it really takes you places (also there’s that rewind thing). It’s almost like Good Kid Maad City in a nutshell? Three different stages, three parts, a journey from a young person to who Kendrick is now. It’s really cool.

Duckworth is a great album closer. I feel like it sort of “wraps up” the entire album, both in it’s “meaning” and in addressing the motifs that were brought up throughout the album, and also there’s that “rewind” thing which… I mean. NATION.

More Jabs at Drake?

I have to be honest, my favorite track on the album is Element. It just sounds like a Drake diss track, even if no names are called out. First, there’s the production which could easily feel at home on any Drake album. Second—there’s that line in the third verse that just SCREAMS “Come at me Drake, and see what happens.”

Just say his name and I promise that you’ll see Candyman

Because it’s all in your eyes, most of y’all tell lies

Most of y’all don’t fade, most of y’all been advised

Last LP I tried to lift the black artists

But it’s a difference between black artists and wack artists

So, let’s break it apart. There’s the “Candyman” line, which I feel is a direct invitation for Drake to try start something; and then there’s the “black/wack” bit, which I feel is a reference to Drake’s “Back to Back”.

It seems like the good guys at Genius.com don’t agree with me, but hear me out.

The track’s production + the Candyman line + the way the “Black/wack” line comes in during an instrumental pause and has a freakishly similar cadence to “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour” = I feel like I’m not entirely in the wrong here.

So yeah, Element is my favorite track right now, but I feel like either Loyalty, Fear, or Duckworth will replace it in the upcoming weeks.

Connections. Connections. Connections.

I was perfectly happy with just this album, but then I accidentally tripped, fell, and rolled down the DamnNation rabbit hole . Now it seems like every line in every song started sounding like there is indeed a promise for a second half for this album. All of a sudden I’m starting to think, “Maybe this isn’t just a regular album with 🔥 tracks. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t put it past Kendrick to make another genius concept double LP.”

PS Follow @NathanZed on twitter, because his “Evolution of” videos are THE bomb:

PPS I really hope this post is going to have a part 2.

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2 Comments

  1. Great review! I agree with pretty much everything you said here. I too was praying day and night for a second album. But I think that if there was one, it would have been on Easter weekend.
    My favorite track is definitely Fear. But I love the video for DNA even more. All that kung Fu Rush Hour action!

    1. Heeey thanks! 🙂 Have you seen his Coachella show? There were a few more Kung Fu Kenny fragments/cut outs between songs.

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