Kendrick Lamar, “DAMN”
Album after album it seems like Kendrick Lamar is forever evolving. And who can blame him? As you go through life and change as a person, so should the music and art you make. Right? Anyways, almost a month after the album dropped I finally have a more consistent review on it, but even still it changes every few times I listen to the album.
So let’s start with the opening track, BLOOD. The album intro always sets the mood for the next 50 minutes or so that we’re about to listen to. Kendrick really is good for a monologue, now. My man will always have you thinking about something. BLOOD closes out with a FOX News (insert major eye roll) clip with Geraldo Rivera making an asinine comment about his 2015 BET performance for “Alright”. The clip leads into DNA and when I tell you the beat I M M E D I A T E LY starts banging! YO! First listen, my mouth dropped. MikeWillMadeIt really put some work in with this beat. My God. And then the famous line that everyone is tweeting and making their IG captions, “I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA.” Around the 2 minute mark when that beat changes up and everything intensifies? Alright, K. Dot. I’m listening.
YAH calms the energy that DNA just filled the room, and honestly the more I listen to this song the more I like it. It’s breezy, how could you not? But if you’re looking for deeper meaning in the song, I feel like Kendrick is really starting to sort his thoughts out here. He’s talking about God, but it’s not religious. Don’t call him black, he’s and Israelite. Israelites were God’s chosen people and when he references Deuteronomy, which in the Bible is when a curse was put on the people for breaking God’s law. So to me, when listening for deeper meaning YAH is Kendrick admitting that he is living for his flesh and not for God if we want to to get biblical on this. But yeah, breezy track.
YAH then fades into ELEMENT which has quickly made its way onto my feeling myself playlist. “If I gotta slap a pussy ass nigga, ima make it look sexy. If I gotta go hard on a bitch ima make it look sexy. ” Yeah, ya girl immediately hit a jig when the chorus dropped. Basically Kendrick is taking his throne right here and letting everyone know that he is THE SHIT. And you can’t be mad at him because, did he lie? *Sorry, not sorry J. Cole fans*
“Ain’t nobody praying for me.” That’s a lonely feeling, man. And FEEL. definitely does just that, have you feel things. Stardom seems to be a very lonely place. FEEL. is that page in your journal where you’re having a really bad and you just want to be upset and tell everyone to fuck off. Those days where you feel like you’ve had everyone’s back but nobody has had yours in return. That’s the best way I can describe this song.
Ahhhhh yes, the Rihanna feature. Okay, hear me out. I can admit that anything that has Rihanna attached to it I’m a little bit biased. LOYALTY was cute, B U T it was just that…cute. Rihanna definitely owned this song with her little flow she had going on, and Kendrick had the lackadaisical flow but it flowed well. The first couple of listens I really liked this track, but it’s a skip over track for me as a whole.
PRIDE is also another track where Kendrick is going back and forth between spirit and flesh. Pride is going to be the death of you and me. Pride is the downfall of man. Being prideful is a sin. I can go on and on about pride and all the sayings. But here Kendrick is, once again going back and forth with God. I really dig all the crooning on the track, but not something I could go to everyday to just vibe to.
HUMBLE. This song is fucking sick. And when the song and visual dropped at the same time, I knew that we were going to be in for it. Humble still bangs, and I don’t think will ever get old. This is also one of those tracks that everyone has talked about so much I don’t feel a need to. Just listen, you’re gonna be bobbing that head pretty soon too.
I’m sure at every stage in life lust is a huge thing, but I really was rocking with this song because I’m in my 20’s and I don’t think love is an actual concept that anyone W A N T S to understand, not necessarily that they can’t. LUST has definitely been on repeat since I’ve fully dissected the album. Maybe it’s because of my recent relationshit struggles, or because it’s a catchy track. Probably both. I had to listen to this one a few times before it really clicked with me. “Lust turned into fear.”
A love track from Kendrick Lamar is not something that I thought I needed, but it most definitely is. LOVE is actually pretty amazing. “Keep it a hundred, I’d rather you trust me than to love me.” I’m a sap, so of course I love this song. Kendrick giving us a little bit of a note, and Zacari fluttering in on the chorus was actually the perfect combo. This is a love song, and also a summer song. I’m ready to put this on my pool playlist. And can I just comment on the way LOVE fades into XXX?
America, please take my hand. Okay let’s go ahead and talk about the fact that U2 is featured on this? As the song played the first time, I could not stop myself from thinking how is Bono about to fit into this? But then the second half of the song comes in and I was floored. Talk about a smooth transition. I’m a little bit iffy with the current hip-hop and alternative collabs in the recent years. I’ve just always felt like they were a bit on the cheesy side. *cough cough kendrickandimaginedragons cough cough* But as smooth as the transition was, I was pleasantly surprised, but I can skip XXX as well.
FEAR was the track where Kendrick put all the fears out there. Childhood, teenage, and adult in the industry. “What happens on earth stays on earth. And I can’t take these feelings with me so hopefully they disperse.” If you really sit down and listen to this song, you really have the most take away quotes from it. The end of the song is a voicemail of Carl Duckworth explaining what it means when he said “we are the true Israelites”. It basically ties back into the biblical explanation that was taken away from YAH. (See how all of this is tying back together? Talk about cohesiveness!) Fear is a little bit on the heavier side, and this is a song where I definitely have stopped what I’m doing to just sit and listen. I feel like I always get a little bit more out of it when I hear it.
The song that I have been waiting…GOD. Hands down my absolute favorite song on the album. Another song to add to the feeling myself playlist. This is the song where Kendrick is bigging himself up. This is Kendrick’s “Yeezus” track if we even want to go as far as to call it that. He’s God status now. I feel like a more aggressive type God, but still a God nonetheless. You feel some type of way then, aaaaaaaahhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaa! Hands down my favorite.
And finally we have our last track, DUCKWORTH. Let’s get through this last track before I fuck your whole thought process up with this last tidbit. So if you’ve done your Googles, you would know that basically this is the story of how Kendrick’s dad and Duckworth basically crossed paths. There was going to be a robbery but there wasn’t, and since there wasn’t Duck’s life was saved and fast forward now we have Kendrick signed to Top Dawg. Life is a crazy thing, eh? Anyways, we’re back in storytelling mode. Starting and ending with a story. Let’s get into one particular sample of this. If you are listening two minutes in you might hear a faintly familiar melody underneath everything. Well if you’re thinking it’s Hiatus Kaiyote, you are correct. It’s their song Atari to be exact. Hearing that, not being sure, and then getting clarification that it was in fact Hiatus Kaiyote being sampled, I lost it. Talk about being on the up and up! Perfect artistry, man.
Kendrick confirmed that this story was true, and it’s kind of crazy that if that robbery would have happened we wouldn’t be sitting here listening to this album because there would be no Kendrick Lamar. DUCKWORTH brings everything back full circle. The song closes out with a gunshot, and everything reverses and starts back at the beginning. Kind of like a circle of life. Or in this case life and then death.
Okay, okay now here’s where it gets fun. And if you want to follow along listen the podcast RUNAWAY JUKEBOX and check out their review of the album and it will actually blow your mind and have you listening to the album again, but in a completely different way. Listen to the album from the end to the beginning and tell me how you like it. I know! It’s a game changer! What are y’alls thoughts on the album? Did you go back and listen to it backwards? Let’s talk about it!