Last Looks

Kendrick Lamar has really made a name for himself as one of hip hops top emcees the past several years. So when Kendrick stated on a song that we had until April 7th to get our act together fans of the Compton rapper just knew we were going to get new music. Kendrick had stans waiting up all night y2k style April 7th with the expectations he would be delivering new music only to troll the rap community stating that he will be dropping his new album in another week. Finally we get the highly anticipated next project from premiere lyricist Kendrick Lamar in a rap game where actual content has taken a back seat to those who just stunts the hardest on social media. It is rare that an artist can consistently put out high quality material and at this rate I wonder if Kendrick is going to be able to at least match or surpass his other work. Will “Damn”  let us down or will good things come to those who wait?

1. Blood
Kendrick begins with the sub par storytelling that he is known for. The timing and pace of each line that is delivered is just so on point. The cadence had me anticipating the next part. The intro comes to a close with broadcasters from Fox news scrutinizing Kendricks lyrics, setting the tone for this emotionally charged project.

2. Dna
Over the first of three dope Mike Will Made It beats, Kendrick speaks of his values and beliefs that make him who he is. Kendrick claims as much as he is ridiculed he will not change who he is because it is a part of who he is. We also acquire more soundbites from fox news commentators.

3. Yah
This next song slows it down after the last lyrical onslaught. Kendrick addresses Fox news reporter and constant tormentor of his Geraldo Rivera. *Update Geraldo Rivera actually commented after he was name dropped saying that Kendrick is a bad role model.

Nose Candy

“I’m diagnosed with real nigga conditions”

“Fox news wanna use my name for percentage”

“I’m an Israelite don’t call me black no more. That word is only a color it aint facts no more”

4. Element
Great beat from James Blake.  This song will really win over true hip hop heads with an opening from New York Legend Dj Kid Capri. Kendrick states he will not let his fame take away from who he really is. This kind of reminds of bitch don’t kill my vibe. I also enjoyed the ode to bayou rap legend Juvenile borrowing his “Ha” flow.

Nose Candy

“I don’t do it for the gram I do it for Compton”

“Just say his name and I’ll promise you’ll see candy man”

“Theres a difference between black artist and wack artist”

5. Feel
Kendrick let his true feelings leak out about the tribulations in this current stage of his life. Kendrick goes off on the media again in a flow that is similar to his verse on the Travis Scott record Goosebumps.

Nose Candy

“I feel like i am legend and all y’all niggas is peasants”

“Fill in the blanks with coffins”

“I feel like the whole world asking me to pray for them but who the fuck is praying for me”

6. Loyalty feat Rihanna
Kendricks charisma just rubs off on Rihanma here as Ri Ri actually spits some hot bars. I wonder why this doesn’t happen with most Kendrick features. This has radio single written all over it. Smooth melodic laid back track about how people worship money and are only loyal to green.

7. Pride
Very hard drums and some smooth sounds here. Kendrick speaks of how people let their pride get the best of them in certain situations.

Nose Candy

“I don’t love people enough to put my faith in them”

“I can’t fake humble because your ass is insecure”

“A perfect world is never perfect only lies”

8. Humble
The first single from Damn with this sick beat and piano from Mike Will Made It. This does not sound like a song it sounds like an anthem! Kendrick goes at instagram models who stunt on social media but have no talent in real life. Kendrick got some heat for his line about his preference for natural women with stretch marks, to each is own.

Nose Candy

“I’ll make a play fucking up your life”

“My left stroke just went viral”

9. Lust
Kendrick does a mixtape style open where he starts his verse then it rewinds back after a few bars. Kendrick gets conscience here as he speaks about the current state of the nation and Donald Trump becoming president.

10. Love  featuring Zacari
This kind of sounds like the token female track every rapper has on their record. Kendrick wonders if he lost it all will you still love him. This doesn’t really sound like a Kendrick record but I like he is branching out as this could be a big crossover smash.

11. XXX  featuring U2
This sounds like an old school 80s beat. Kendrick goes back to his great storytelling here as he raps about our young brothers and sisters being killed for no reason. This is stand out work. THere is no way someone can listen to this and not nod their head. Yes U2 actually makes an appearance on this song not a sample as hearing Bono on a Kendrick Lamar record is surreal.

Nose Candy

“Aint no black power when yo baby getting killed by a coward.”

“The great american flag is wrapped and dragged with explosives”

“Is America honest or do we bask in sin”

“You overnight big rifles then tell fox to be scared of us”

“Americas a reflection of me that is what a mirror does”

12. Fear
Kendrick speaks as a mother to a child about what they should and shouldn’t be doing. This track shows of Kendricks ability to differentiate his voice and masterfully pull of different characters on wax. Kendrick speaks of all the thinks that could potentially scare him such as all of the dangers that could potentially kill him in today’s society or about his accountant trying to jack him. I enjoyed the shout out to his previous song Dna. This is a coming of age record that sounds like material that would be on To Pimp a Butterfly.

Nose Candy

“I’ll beat your ass then beat your ass if you still here”

“I can’t take these feelings with me when I dies so i hope they disperse”

13. God
A track about how people are fixated by material objects. In God We trust is written on our money and that us as a society ted to bow down and worship it.

Nose Candy

“I kill them with kindness or kill them with diamonds”

14. Duckworth
The Damn finale closes with more beautiful storytelling and descriptive wordplay. The beat changes up a few times as Kendrick transitions nicely through each. This song takes you all the way back to the beginning from the first track and that aha moment where it all make sense was like what Helen Keller must have felt like at the well. Kendrick tells the story of a chance encounter between his father and Top Dog Ceo Anthony Tiffit. The ending will leave you in awe as Kendricks ability to vividly paint pictures with his storytelling is impeccable.

Nose Candy

“Life is one funny mother fucker a true comedian”

” I always thought it was me against the world until I found out it is me vs me”

Final Touch

Kendrick Lamar not only reasserts his dominance of the rap game but also solidifies him self in the greatest of all time conversation. Some people may call it being a prisoner of the moment but sometimes you have to acknowledge great work for what it is. This project is many things. It is a clever clapback at his critics. It is an ode to rap’s renessaince as it was a very conscience decision to have hip hop and New York legend Kid Capri come through for some hosting highlights. The visual story telling, the constantly changing flows, the impersonation of different characters, the wicked wordplay.  All the boxes are checked as far as being a great album. This work has nice balance as K-Dot transitions beautifufully from hard-hitting flows to songs with laid back lyricsm. Kendrick also takes a stance on current situations and puts a spotlight on all of the darkest spots in today’s society. Kendrick refuses to compromise as he seems more intent on making a message as opposed to making a meme.  There is constant cohesion as you are taken on a journey from the first song to the last song and by the time the final bar is delivered really only one word comes to mind……

-Caleb Raves