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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.
Then we follow one of Kendrick’s characters, ‘Johnny’, who in this instance is a teenager, disillusioned with school and wishing to be a rapper. Suddenly a beat change tears the whole song apart and Kendrick’s delivery becomes savage over sirens and the rev of engines. Turns out Kendrick has had a call from his friend telling him that his son has been killed and that he is seeking Kendrick for assistance in his mental state. Instead of offering solace and purity of soul, Kendrick says how he would ‘chip a ni***r and throw the blower in his lap, walk himself to court like ‘bitch, I did that!’ But after all that, he puts down the phone. Why? Because: ‘aite kids we’re gonna talk about gun control.’ DAMN! Beat change again – Act III – Bono’s voice chillingly comes in and a commentary of America ensues. I could write a whole article on this one song, such is its density, but an album isn’t just a song. We are also given the artistry-laden ‘LUST’, produced by BadbadNotGood, Kaytranada, with strings by Kamasi Washington, which gives the song a narcotised and intoxicating wooziness – much like the inflections and guitars on PRIDE, a brilliant song produced by Steve Lacy – as a backdrop for Kendrick’s solemn delivery. His lyrics repeat on themselves showing the banality of routine, accentuated with reversed beats.
That’s not to say that the most thought provoking are always the best songs. Bringing in trap producer, Mike-Will-Made-It, Kendrick lays down some absolute bangers; and no banger bangs as hard as DNA, the second track, after a sample of a Fox News commentary on Lamar’s ‘Alright’. The beat on this is a blend of old skool 808s and the growing influence of industrial rap, like Death Grips and hints of Run the Jewels, especially in the latter half of the song, where Kendrick’s flow goes full throttle and is challenged by a sample of a Rick James live performance of Mary Jane in 1982 – ‘gimme some ganja!’ Alongside DNA sits the hit single off of the album, Humble, also produced by Mike-Will-Made-It with a now-famous staccato piano phrase and hook – and who can look over ‘my left stroke just went viraaaaal!’
So has Kendrick done it again? Well, yes – this album is yet another exhibition of Kendrick’s versatility and creative genius. But it does have its drawbacks. Them songs so burdened with the need to be liked left a sour taste in the mouth. No wonder some people believed that there would be a second album coming: Kendrick, at times, just seemed sub-par. Whilst it does have some conceptual ideas running throughout - the tracklisting covering deadly sins and introspection - 'DAMN.' lacks a consistent concept running through its entirety that has a progression, as GKMC and TPAB did. Whilst it’s never a good thing to pigeon-hole an artist, this different take seemed less artistically inspired than his previous projects, and seemed more interested in showing that he could create chart-topping songs. He’s done that now, and to full effect. This makes me even more excited for a new album: now that he’s proved he can captivate the charts, will he now turn to something even more left-field and experimental than he’s ever done before?
Image Credits: wikipedia.co.uk