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.