Kendrick Lamar is easily one of the most important rappers of our generation. His music is a unique dichotomy of highly emotive reflections of our broken society and bona fide club bangers. His lyrical composition and verbal agility is unparalleled. You can just as easily weep to the intense yet wildly real subject matter in his material as you could dance to the fervent musical landscape that surrounds. His 2015 release To Pimp a Butterfly not only revolutionized hip hop but music itself. It featured a wall of heavy musicians such as Kamasi Washington alongside ground breaking lyrics. The album became an anthem for the Black Lives Matters movement and is timelessly important. His fourth album Damn is the first follow to the iconic record so it naturally held some great anticipation and pressure. Damn is nothing short of brilliant, his music doesn’t plateau it perpetuates. He has found his distinct voice and he is unapologetically himself. Damn is fun, sensual but serious which is an unusual balance that Lamar has perfected.There is something so rare and enjoyable about music that moves your heart and your hips simultaneously.
Fame hasn’t removed any of the authenticity that pumps ferociously through his music. Damn even features samples of criticism that he has received towards some of his lyrics on To Pimp a Butterfly said by Fox News Commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle. Lamar seems to welcome controversy and criticism, perhaps he even uses it as inspiration. He directly criticizes Geraldo Rivera, a hip hop critic who stated “This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to African Americans than racism in recent years”. Lamar also slams President Trump and doesn’t bother with making it subtle. Some of the lyrics featured on Damn are easily Lamar’s best yet.The song Humble features the lyrics “I am so sick of the photoshop, show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor, show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks”.The track XXX. which interestingly features Bono, Lamar states some willdy astute lyrics such as “It’s nasty when you set us up, then roll the dice to bet us up, overnight the rifles, then tell Fox to be scared of us” which is followed up with “ain’t no black power when your baby killed by a coward” as a reflection of his friend losing his son. The album points out the many flaws of humanity while reeling themes of forgiveness and redemption. He intersperses some biblical verses throughout the record, most notably on the track Fear. Damn concludes with a story about Lamar’s Father and the his producer Top Dawg about an incriminating encounter they had at KFC in the 80’s. There are many facets to this behemoth emotional avalanche of a record but it’s unusual accessibly let’s you choose what you want to take from it.