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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
So it has come. Kendrick Lamar – the ‘saviour of rap’ – has released his follow up to the masterpiece that was ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’. It came a little bit earlier than expected – his rousing ‘The Heart Part 4’, in which he hinted at a new album, appeared out of nowhere. DAMN’s predecessor was so dense, and so creative in its scope, that fans would have been content to wait another year or two for a release. But Lamar was obviously riding on a creative wave, and, as his producer, Terrace Martin, has recently revealed, he had the idea for this album even during the process of TPAB.
A lot was riding on DAMN. After releasing two albums that many consider to be classics, not only of hip-hop, but also of modern music itself, there was an air of anticipation. Would he pull it off again? Would he continue his streak? Would it be another classic? What concept would he go with? It says a lot about an artist’s body of work to have such questions surrounding an upcoming release, and Kendrick having such a status begs the question as to whether he is one of the best to ever do it. I must admit myself that Kendrick is one of very few artists that I get so excited about hearing new music from. In full disclosure, I expected a more electronic, more experimental album, similar to the music he has created with Flying Lotus, like ‘Never Catch Me’ – pushing the boundaries of what we consider hip-hop. ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ is the most conceptual and well-put together album I have ever heard. Whatever DAMN. turned out to be, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to compare it to its predecessor; I knew I would be disappointed.
Unlike my other reviews, it seems inappropriate to take a Kendrick album track by track. His albums have a literary value, a holistic experience – you never review a book chapter by chapter.
So – what is it like?
It’s different. As Anthony Fantano pointed out in his review, Kendrick seems at his most depressed and his most jaded on ‘DAMN.’ compared to any of his other projects, and this is hard to dispute. Whilst he might have shown his more vulnerable, self-destructive side previously on tracks like ‘u’, never has Kendrick sounded so consistently worked up throughout an album. Tracks like ‘FEEL’ and ‘FEAR’ invoke this feeling of pressure and abandonment, both by Kendrick’s adoring fans and by the guy that should be watching out for him the most, who he ‘made To Pimp a Butterfly for’, God. The former of the two tracks, ‘FEEL’, is the fifth track on the album, and has a quality of being submerged underwater, with faint woos coming in and out in the background. Over this numbed beat, Kendrick raps about how ‘aint nobody praying for’ him. The beat gives the unnerving sensation of being immersed in Kendrick’s pain, the ‘woos’ only faintly heard – his success taking a back seat to his own demons.
Image Credits: wikipedia.co.uk