“DAMN.” released on April 14 is rapper Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album. The album features minimal features and a new sound that stands up to the legacies of his previous albums. Photo Fair Use of Spotify.
By CONNOR MCCAGE – Staff Writer
Rapper Kendrick Lamar returns with his fourth studio album, “DAMN.” released on April 14, showing that Lamar is blessed with the Midas Touch.
Following the critically acclaimed albums, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and “To Pimp a Butterfly” rapper Kendrick Lamar had the unenviable task of delivering an album that lived up to their legacies. Thankfully, Lamar has released an album that complements his previous works, while still taking his sound in a new direction.
“DAMN.” released on April 14, is Lamar’s fourth studio album that moves away from the artist’s familiar jazz and blues sound on “To Pimp a Butterfly” to a more radio-friendly and traditional hip-hop sound.
Lamar’s previous albums feature narratives and stories that are told throughout the album and although “DAMN.” is no different, the story is told in a different way. “DAMN.”’s narrative is told through the themes of the songs, which gives it a much deeper and complex story and interpretation.
The album opens with “BLOOD.”, a dark, spoken word piece that builds on the album’s incredibly complex narrative. The song then directly leads into the grimey “DNA.”, which addresses how the media views him as well as rap as a whole.
After the intense opener, the mood of the album shifts with “YAH.”, which slows the pace down with its chill vocals and hook. “DAMN.” picks back up with “ELEMENT.” and “LOYALTY.”, two radio-friendly songs that manage to maintain Lamar’s message.
Those are immediately followed up with the introspective and poetic “FEEL.” and “PRIDE.”, which offer some of Lamar’s finest verses such as, “I’ll take all the religions and put ’em all in one service/ Just to tell ’em we ain’t sh*t, but he’s been perfect.” The lead single, “HUMBLE.” offers a commentary on the indulgences of Lamar’s peers.
The next two tracks, “LUST.” and “LOVE.” beautifully parallel each other, both musically and thematically. “LOVE.” is Lamar’s first attempt at a traditional love song and is very enjoyable to listen to, but is not as introspective as other tracks on the album.
“XXX.” is a dark and fast-paced rap song that features some of the best production on the album along with a very aggressive verse. The second part of the song features Bono of U2 and is a strong outro to a very political song.
The introspective and climactic finales of the album “GOD.” and “FEAR.” are both great and powerful, with “GOD.” acting as a very catchy song that helps detail Lamar’s struggle with his faith. The closing song “DUCKWORTH.” finishes out on a high note, as it details the story of how Lamar and the man who signed him.
“DAMN.” is another great album that towers over most of the music being released today in any genre. On the surface, the album is great, but further inspection reveals the most complex beats and narratives Lamar has released yet. Although the album might not have the cultural impact or urgent political message of “To Pimp a Butterfly”, “DAMN.” can not be missed and only gets better with every listen.