On his fourth studio album Kendrick Lamar cements himself into rap’s highest circle.
Following a two-year hiatus, rap superstar Kendrick Lamar resurfaces to rejuvenate fans with a batch of lyrical backflips.
Despite being the first studio album from the Compton native to not contain an overarching narrative, on his fourth studio album, “DAMN.”, Lamar is still razor sharp as he describes the world as he sees it. The targets may have switched but audiences will still rejoice to hear Kung-Fu Kenny lash against outer and inner demons.
The biggest surprise on “DAMN.” is the roster of new producers working alongsidethe Lamar to create an overall more accessible project. Trap-producer turned radio-mainstay Mike Will Made It contributes to single “Humble” and opener “DNA” while frequent Jay Z collaborator, 9th Wonder, contributes to closer “DUCKWORTH.” The guest list has similarly expanded as pop-princess Rihanna appears on “LOYALTY” and rock titan U2 stop by on “XXX.”
Lamar previously forced featuring albums into his world, but on “DAMN.” his ability to transcend genres and morph into a cluster of viewpoints is fully realized. As he does on “LUST”, which strives for the paranoid lover André 3000 channeled on “The Love Below”.
Lamar’s focus remains squarely on the ills of our society and the role he plays as an influencer. Although not as political as his last album, an hour and twenty-minutes of meditation on the black experience, Kendrick finds time to exorcise his demons and critique the world at large. Seven-minute centerpiece “Fear” follows Kendrick’s lifelong battle with the paranoia of dying young.
After peppering the first three songs with barbs toward FOX News and its view on Black Lives Matter, Lamar stares down the ailments of 2017. On “LUST”, Lamar details the monotonous routine of an unnamed success, until confronted by the 2016 election, and after a period of distraught they’re “Revertin’’ back to our daily programs, stuck in our ways.”
The real mic-drop comes two songs later at “XXX” where Lamar pictures the “great American flag wrapped in drag and explosives.” He calls out the hypocrisy he sees of American politicians, societal leaders and news outlets describing African-Americans as terrorists even though the government contributes to circumstances that foster violence. “America’s reflections of me, that’s what a mirror does,” Kendrick states in the song.
Kendricks wrestling with huge ideas of sin, chance, human behavior, society and his ability to dress up or down those lessons will guarantee him a staple in hip hop for years.
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