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A review of Kendrick Lamar’s adventurous “DAMN.”

An alternative cover of

An alternative cover of "DAMN."

An alternative cover of "DAMN."

Dylan Schwartz '18, Entertainment Editor

Kendrick Lamar returned on Good Friday, about two years after his groundbreaking album, “To Pimp A Butterfly” was released, with his new experimental release “DAMN.”, which features Lamar on the cover with “DAMN” in the TIMES font.

The album opens with Lamar telling a story spoken-word style, with a laid back barber shop soul sample in the background. The next track, “DNA.” serves to set the tone for the rest of the record quite well, with a trapped-out, experimental, and simple production style and some classic Lamar flow over the top of it.

The lyrical content on “DAMN.” is far less political than its’ predecessor and focuses more on K.Dot himself, rather than the world around him. On tracks like “XXX.” (which features the band U2, a massive curveball for a hip-hop album), “ELEMENT.”, and the single “HUMBLE.”, Lamar is making it very clear he runs the rap landscape right now. With few competitors, multiple classic albums, and tracks topping the charts, he has the accolades to boot. “DAMN.” is constantly switching styles, even within the track.

It ranges from banger-type hip-hop tracks like “HUMBLE.”, to more laid-back cuts like “LUST.”, and the fantastic “LOVE.” which features Zacari and Lamar trading back and forth over some spaced-out synths, a trap beat, and sliding 808 basslines. This is probably my favorite track on the album. “DAMN.” also marks the first time in Kendrick’s career where he’s singing.  

“DAMN.” keeps it light on the features, but when they do show up, they are effective and aren’t just thrown in for the sake of having a feature. Rihanna shows up on  “LOYALTY.”, which has a fun early 2000’s pop hip-hop feel to it, but Lamar’s flows serve to differentiate it, using a lower voice flow that contrasts from the louder delivery he makes use of on most of the rest of the album.

“DAMN.” is without a doubt Kendrick Lamar’s most adventurous release to date, but it’s the Kendrick we know and love the entire time. His second album, “Section.80” will always be my favorite, which in my opinion, is a 10/10. However, “DAMN.” has an experimental side to it that sets it above “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and “To Pimp A Butterfly,” so it gets an 8/10 from me.

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