Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. album review
Grammy Award winning rapper Kendrick Lamar has released his newest album simplified titles “DAMN.” With only two major studio releases, and Billboard and other high profile sites already listing him as one of the top ten greatest rappers of ALL TIME, let’s just say the pressure to deliver another classic album is an understatement. Does this album deliver? Let’s see.
Kendrick is one of those rare rappers that walks the line from high concept lyricism while still delivering radio friendly singles with infectious hooks. DAMN. very much continues this trend where it feels it does a better job riding that line than his previous efforts, where “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” felt it excelled more in the music side where To Pimp a Butterfly excelled at the concept side. He opens the album with a skit that actually doesn’t even make any sense until you make it to the very last song “Duckworth” (I almost feel I should almost give a spoiler alert). The opening song ” DNA.” opens with an excerpt of Fox News criticizing his lyrics, and the entire song could feel like it’s aimed directly at them, but in actually it’s almost as if he’s agreeing with them. At the heart of the song he’s basically admitting his music is NOT for everybody, so it’s understandable for Fox News to misinterpret his music and lyrics.
I also appreciate Kendrick’s growth as an artist in general. Every song on the album has a completely different feel, and his flow is varied enough to match each song. This isn’t Future, where every song on every album sounds the exact same, you can hear the hard work Kendrick puts into his craft bleeding through the music. However that is the downside of being so ambitious that you have a bigger chance of missing your mark. There are a few misfires on the album towards the middle where it feels like it’s losing steam. It’s not that they’re even bad songs, it’s that the great songs are SO great that it makes the lesser songs stick out.
When it’s all said and done, DAMN. is another solid effort from Kendrick, but I’m sorry to say he falls JUST short of reaching the classic levels of his previous efforts. The fact that there are one or two songs that I skip just to hear the next track is unheard of for a Kendrick Lamar album. Usually the fast forward button is never touched. At the end of day he’s a victim of his own high bar he set for himself. Either way, there are too many great tracks to be denied, with enough lyrical depth in each verse for Rap Genius to work overtime, and this probably will still be the best rap album of the year.