Kendrick Lamar: DAMN. (Album Review)

For the past two weeks, I have been listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” album. I wanted to really delve into the record fully before reviewing it and I must say that I have dived deep. “DAMN.” is without a doubt one of the Kendrick’s best records as well as one of the best albums of the year.

The album is a stark contrast from the previous “To Pimp A Butterfly,” where jazz and funk provided the overall sound for the record. This time around, Kendrick goes for a minimal sound that works quite well, especially on tracks ‘Yah.’ and ‘Element.’ The former has been dubbed by some listeners as cloud rap and it does feature a more atmospheric sound than listeners are used to from Kendrick. ‘Element.’ has quiet keys playing during the chorus as Kendrick goes in over the beat. These two tracks are my favorites off the record with their laidback sound.

‘Loyalty.’ and ‘Love.’ are both pop-influenced songs that have Kendrick venturing into that new territory. The former features Rihana and is a song that was specifically made for the radio and you definitely can’t fault Kendrick for that. ‘Love.’ has a kind of quiet-storm sound to that is the most surprising and unique track from the album.

‘DNA.’ and ‘Humble.’ both feature a more trap sound and are the hardest cuts on the album as Kendrick completely shows his lyrical versatility. Both tracks are amped up and don’t leave room for respite. ‘XXX.’ features U2 and is a somber track as Kendrick talks about the state of America and Donald Trump’s ascendancy. It is a track that works so well with Bono’s easy vocals blending with the beat.

The record ends with ‘Duckworth.’ a track that has Kendrick providing a story on how his father and TDE’s Top Dawg first met and how it all came full circle with Kendrick now rapping for the record.

Overall, “DAMN.” is an absolute pleasure to listen to, as Kendrick delivers a record that reflects on the many facets of our lives, especially during these most turbulent of times. Kendrick shows why he is the best rapper in the game and why he truly does not have any competition. Each track is different in its own way and takes a deep focus to not miss any messages that Kendrick wishes to get across. Kendrick has made another record that will become a classic in the hip-hop canon.

Score: 10/10

Why I Am a Fan of Bloc Party’s “Intimacy”

When I first heard Bloc Party’s third studio album “Intimacy” many years ago, I was not impressed and agreed with the critics mixed reception of the band. I wanted the band to continue their post-punk sound and was turned off by the electronic direction they ventured into. I listened to the album once and didn’t return to it till a few years later, and after really listening to it, I must say it is one of their best albums.

“Intimacy” has vocalist/rhythm guitarist Kele Okereke stretching his vocal range that wasn’t apparent on the band’s previous records. Kele’s volumnious voice matches perfectly on the electronic and synth-heavy tracks ‘Mercury’ and ‘One Month Off’. Russel Lissack’s guitar is still paramount on many tracks and even drives it along, especially on the scatterbrain sound of ‘Trojan Horse,’ which has become one of my favorite tracks off the record. ‘Zephyrus’ has a more ethereal sound with its loop of Kele’s and a choir’s harmonious vocals. It is a surprising track on the album that really throws you off and hooks you in.

This album has many standout tracks on it including ‘Better Than Heaven’ with its more somber sound and drum loop. Kele sings about a relationship that has undergone a change for the worse. Russel’s quick-fingered guitar riff pops out constantly throughout the track.

It took me several repeats of listening to “Intimacy” before I became a fan of the record. The electronic sound works very well in the band’s favor and even allows them to branch out into uncharted waters. The album was a risk by the band, but a much-needed one to prove to fans (including me) that they are not defined by a specific sound or genre. The album is a representation of the band’s need to grow and expand their musical horizons and not remain stagnant. I can now say that I am glad they decided to risk their sound and produce such a stellar record that I return to over and over again.

Kerry James Marshall Exhibit

A few months ago, I went to check out the Kerry James Marshall Exhibit at the MET and didn’t have the chance to post the pictures of his paintings to this blog. Well, here they finally are.

The exhibition really opened my eyes to how great an artist Marshall is. A lot of the paintings I never saw before and I also saw his comic that I didn’t have the chance to take a photo of.

 

Kendrick Lamar: DNA

Kendrick Lamar has returned with one of the best hip hop albums of the decade. ‘Damn.’ is a phenomenal record that further proves why Kendrick is considered by many to be the best rapper of his generation or even all time. I am going to be reviewing the album in the coming days, after listening to it every day for the last week. But before we get to that, I am going to share with you the dynamic music video for “DNA” which features cameos from Don Cheadle and Schoolboy Q.

Revamping the Blog

I am going to change up the blog somewhat. The music video highlights will continue as well as the Sunday Soul series, but I want to incorporate long-form blogs on my thoughts and what I find interesting. When I first started this blog, I wanted to focus strictly on the arts, but now I want to shine a spotlight on black artists/musicians/writers and what people are doing for social change. This idea has been floating around in my head for

When I first started this blog, I wanted to focus strictly on the arts, but now I want to delve into my thoughts on the many facets of life, as well as shine a spotlight on black artists/musicians/writers and what people are doing for social change. This idea has been floating around in my head for some time and I want to get it out.  Hope you all are excited as I am! Thanks!

Isaiah Rashad: Shot You Down (Remix) feat. Jay Rock and SchoolBoy Q

Hip Hop independent label TDE has proven time after time that they have the best rappers in the game on its roster.  Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Isaiah Rashad have released some of the best rap albums ever and will be included in hip hop’s classic albums canon. Isaiah Rashad is the youngest of the group, but wise beyond his years. His EP “Cilvia Demo” was released to critical acclaim and showed the world that Rashad was a rapper to watch.

“Shot You Down (remix)” is one of the best tracks from the EP with its laidback beat and visceral flows from Rashad, Rock, and Q.