Let me start this review with the obvious – DAMN.
After much anticipation, DAMN. – Kendrick’s new full-length project is here and safe to say, it’s an instant classic. Boasting a stellar influence on the production of this effort, from Sounwave, 9th Wonder and even 18-year-old Steve Lacy (WaveByte’s James Donaldson recently wrote about his dope new EP: https://wavebyte.co.uk/2017/03/14/steve-lacy-steve-lacys-demo/ )
This 14-track LP features huge guest appearances from the likes of Rihanna and U2 which guarantees the album a fair deal of traction with the clear majority of mainstream media outlets. Although there was no place for The Heart Part 4 on this project, Kendrick’s previously released track HUMBLE. – which debuted in the top 10 music chart last week – is one of the standout tracks on offer here.
DAMN. is the full-length follow up to 2015’s masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly. Kendrick’s previous platinum-selling album (showcasing hits such as King Kunta and Alright) which subsequently proceeded to earn a nomination album of the year at the 58th Grammy Awards. Success is certainly not a stranger to Kendrick, and the overwhelmingly positive reception of his third studio album provoked a great deal of hype for the forthcoming releases.
An April 7th release was postulated by fans and critics alike, following the release of The Heart Part 4 in which Kendrick declares “y’all got til’ April 7th to get y’all shit together”. When April 7th finally rolled around, fans were left somewhat disappointed to only receive the album preorder as oppose to any actual new material – DAMN. was given an indefinite release date of April 14th.
On the morning of release, Sounwave teased on Twitter that the Easter Friday release was “not the official version”. The theory is as follows: the album opener, BLOOD. ends with the Kendrick musing “you’ve lost your life” followed by the rattling noise of a gunshot. Lamar is a religious man and the album being released on the day that Jesus died, has provoked the notion amongst fans that there is more to come on Sunday – the day that Jesus was resurrected. This theory is further supported by the lyric “I said it’s like that, dropped one classic, came right back my next album, the whole industry on a ice pack”. Could there be a second album? For now, it’s all speculative.
All in all, this is a solid album from start to finish. I have no doubt that Kendrick will once again be receiving nods towards various accolades including album of the year. Despite this, DAMN. is not perfect and fails to match the calibre of quality previously set by Kendrick’s prior outputs. In a sense, he has returned to his roots by bringing back the raw and visceral rap vibe with which he made his name on 2012’s good kid, m.A.A.D city. In addition to this, he has managed to maintain the soulful style that was discovered on To Pimp a Butterfly – which is certainly commendable.
This album, like most albums of late, has its high points and its low points. For me personally, a highlight track would have to be LOVE. – the unique sound that is offered up in this track is unlike anything else on the album and truly displays another element of Kendrick’s outstanding ability to produce music that is both enjoyable and provocative.