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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.
‘FEAR’ is an equally disconcerting listen: it is an exploration of the differing fear with the coming of age. But this is not a universal pain; it’s cemented in Kendrick’s own experience from growing up in Comtpon to now achieving fame. These self-reflections and bearing of the soul punctuate the album. Even the cover – now a meme associated with disappointment and burden – shows Kendrick looking like he’s suffering from a stroke sent from God. You get the notion that this is one the main premises of the album – the last verse on ‘FEAR’ includes many of the titles of the tracklisting, eventually culminating in the line ‘am I living through fear of living through rap? Damn.’
But these moments of confession are awkwardly juxtaposed with glitzy late 2000/early 2010 era-like songs. At the forefront of these is ‘GOD’ – a song that is so detestable so as to be confused with an Akon song. It is so populist in its approach, and so misjudged (who thought that ‘ahh-haa!’ was a good hook?) that it seems to somewhat trivialise the gravitas of ‘FEAR’. Perhaps Kendrick seemed to replicate the genius contrast of ‘u’ with ‘Alright’, but it just comes off leaving a sour taste in the mouth. This track fits into the same category as the equally dreadful ‘LOVE’, a track which is such a blatant appeal to the masses that it could easily have been a Drake track. In fact, some of the flows on these songs sound so much like Drake – with their drowsiness and monotony – that I originally thought them to be diss tracks. Then, finding that none of the lyrical content matched up to my theory, I conceded that Kendrick had compromised his sound on the album. Not that he fits into any particular genre of ‘sound’ per se (just look at the sonic difference between GKMC and TPAB), but he does tend to find uniqueness, something against the gradient of pop rap. His most successful attempt at this pop appeal comes with the Rihanna-featured track, ‘LOYALTY’ – the Bruno Mars sample is done well, and the hook is catchy. Rihanna’s performance isn’t bad either – I thought she was going to actually ruin the album with a mere feature of her singing (like her feature on Kanye’s ‘Famous’), but instead she rapped with a decent, nonchalant flow.
Luckily, the tracklisting is substantial enough, and strong enough, to have these tracks easily skipped over and the rest of the album be brilliant. ‘DAMN.’ is at its most impressive when Kendrick flexes his artistic muscles, and really challenges us to listen to what he’s saying. Passive listeners can have ‘GOD’ and ‘LOVE’, but those that really listen, Kendrick treats us with tracks like ‘LUST’ and ‘XXX’.
The latter of the two, I must admit, had me pulling the dirtiest face on initial listen. It’s like a play separated into three acts. At first Kendrick introduces the notion that even the godly and holy have passions they cannot fight against.
Image Credits: wikipedia.co.uk