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Review: "DAMN."

by Kevin Plinzke - Staff Writer
Mon, Apr 24th 2017 09:00 pm

"Yellin' one, two, three, four, five, I am the greatest rapper alive." 

It's hard to argue with Kendrick Lamar on this one after listening to "DAMN." 

Lamar first teased us with "The Heart Part IV" which I reviewed a few weeks ago; it came out on Friday, April 14 and sent fans of the rapper into an immediate frenzy. 

New music from KDot himself, or as he is frequently referred to on this record, "Kung Fu Kenny" is always one of those polarizing things in the music world. 

The album has a conscious, delirious nature. It sounds as though it's Lamar's way of expressing his feelings toward the state of the world these days. Tracks like "YAH." and "XXX." touch a lot on Lamar's mindset as he reacts to the election and how he is received by Fox News. 

The album also has a very different feel musically from its predecessor, "To Pimp A Butterfly", which has a heavy jazz influence. On "DAMN." Lamar goes for a much more in-your-face type of music. The beats are hard-hitting, and the bars are flowing rapidly. On tracks like "DNA." and "HUMBLE." Lamar showcases his signature flow and lyrical prowess, with the bars coming early and often on both tracks. 

Another high point on the album came from an unexpected source. Lamar lends his singing pipes to a couple tracks to sing hooks and do some "sing rapping", a style that has been popularized lately. The highlight of the album for me, however, is the track "LOVE." featuring Zacari. The song has a smooth beat, with Zacari providing a stunning hook. Lamar sings "I wanna be with you" repeatedly over the hook and although Lamar isn't a particularly technically sound vocalist, the sincerity with which he delivers the lyrics makes it all the more enjoyable.  

 The intro track itself, "BLOOD." is a song where Lamar is telling a story about how "he was taking a walk the other day" and after meeting a blind woman, (spoiler alert) there is a gunshot that we are to believe has killed Lamar. The story is reintroduced again at the end of the album, on "DUCKWORTH." A track where Lamar tells a story about how Top Dawg (of TDE, and a known friend and mentor to Lamar) and Lamar's father's lives crossed paths in a serendipitous way. The track ends with a callback to the skit from the first track. 

This album is arguably Lamar's most musically accessible album yet. In a time of political and social turmoil, the world is lucky to have people like Lamar who know how to reflect that and the delirious side effects that come with it, and turn it into some amazing art.

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