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Album Review: Kendrick Lamar’s Newest

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DAMN, released April 14, 2017, is the fourth full-length studio album released by Compton based rapper Kendrick Lamar. In 2015 Lamar released the influential instant classic To Pimp a Butterfly which was saturated with political and racially-charged messages. It was met with critical acclaim and definitely had fans and critics alike excited for his next effort.

Right away, you can tell that Kendrick changed his style again on this album, and strives for a more mainstream, pop appeal. It’s apparent that the production has been switched from jazzy and soulful to more sample-based trap and hip-hop characteristic of good kid, m.A.A.d city and other modern rap. This change opens Kendrick Lamar’s music back up to a wider audience, but as a result causes it to lose a lot of the artist’s unique and fresh sound.

The album’s lead single, HUMBLE., is a Tupac-esque mid tempo song with a classic west coast hip-hop beat and robotic cadence to Kendrick’s rapping. Though it is the album’s single, it is perhaps my least favorite song on the work. I simply don’t like the way it sounds; it is not actually a bad song.

DNA. is another one of the album’s most popular songs, and is the first trap banger we have heard the artist create in a while. His verses are somewhat fire on this song, but nothing compares to his verse on XXX., which might be one of the most flaming verses Kendrick has ever spat. I was also nervous about the U2 feature on XXX. being cheesy and forced, but I can gladly say it adds to the sound.

The song LOYALTY. features Rihanna and has the most potential to be played on the radio. It has auto-tuned vocals characteristic of a lot of popular rap, and has the most singable lyrics. I can see this one being a popular hit at parties.

The best song on the album in my opinion is the seven and a half minute track called FEAR. The artist cuts deep on this one and discusses points in his life which nearly destroyed him. He laments about subject matter such as pressure from neighborhood gang affiliation, threats from a parental personal of bodily harm, and the overall nature of fear itself. This track is a culmination of much of the subject matter on the rest of DAMN., specifically the depression and anxiety the artist references throughout other tracks.

Overall, DAMN. is a solid fourth studio album by Kendrick Lamar. It is more varied in production and genre experimentation than any of his past works, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your opinion. I personally think that the more consistent sound of his previous efforts delivered a better listening experience. DAMN. delivers in both the banger demand and good playlist music departments, but is less visionary and fresh than both To Pimp a Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d city.

Best songs: FEAR., DUCKWORTH., XXX., LOYALTY., and DNA.

Rating:

8/10

 

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