DAMN. keeps people captivated as the Grammys get closer

Vincent Kuai, Staff Writer

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On Good Friday (April 14) of this year, Kendrick Lamar dropped his fourth studio album titled, DAMN. Since the 2018 Grammys are nearing it seems worthwhile to mention one of my favorite albums in the Grammy nomination lineup.

Before I begin this review, it is worth noting that most of this album is spoken and made for those in urban communities. As a student who has lived his whole life in suburban communities, I will try my best to give an objective review.

The Compton rapper’s album is a full length story of his life, his experiences, his moral values, and his emotions. The album begins with “BLOOD” which gives an example and explanation for urban people’s attitudes by giving an urban example of treachery. The album continues strong with “DNA” which is a powerful song that essentially shows him flexing lyrically. The commanding mood and tone is kept strong through his “ELEMENT” and then Lamar gets into how he “FEEL.” “FEEL” is an equally powerful song with a different message which is about the trials and tribulations (mentally and physically) that he has to face in his day to day. After Lamar talks about his “FEEL”, he begins depicting his moral compass that he has developed through his time as a music artist through songs such as: “LOYALTY” “PRIDE” and “HUMBLE.”

After “HUMBLE” the rest of the album takes a smoother and calming sound while still maintaining a commanding voice. Lamar’s “LUST” shows the temptations that follow him and this is followed by “LOVE.” “LOVE” being shown after “LUST” is similar to how “HUMBLE” is shown after “PRIDE.” In both the scenarios, the aforementioned emotion contradicts with the former emotion. The album ends with “XXX”, “FEAR”, “GOD”, and “DUCKWORTH” which all close the album with descriptions of Lamar’s life when he was living in the ghettos of Compton.

There are several major themes of urban life, anxieties, and hopes that make this album a worthwhile listen if only to take a second to listen to what Lamar has to say. I would likely to mention one theme in the album: the contradictions. This theme has been supported by the rapper as he stated to MTV that the album can be listed “from the back end.” If you do decide to listen to the album starting with “DUCKWORTH” then the feel of the album does shift. Another example of juxtaposition is in the front and back of the album cover. The front cover has ‘DAMN.” in red while the back cover has it in green. Red and green are opposite colors. The back cover also has half of it in black and the other half in white. Another example of Lamar’s contradictions is shown during his Coachella performance — when he came out as Kung-Fu Kenny. The reference to Asian culture is likely a reference to yin-yang. The juxtapositions throughout the album and in his shift to Kung-Fu Kenny show the intricacies and disparities within Lamar’s personality as a person and as a rapper. The polarizing feel from the start to the end of the album reflects the polarizing emotions that Lamar has and one that many people, whether urban or not, share in their own lives.

Another detail that Lamar has in his album is that each and every track is fully capitalized along with the title. The capitalization is done to show how the tracks are facts and realities of Lamar and are loudly and honestly presented as such. Lamar is 30 years old. He is past his adolescence and coming into middle-age. “DAMN” is Lamar showing maturity while maintaining dominance in the Hip-Hop community.

Lamar dropped his “DAMN” on Good Friday to show that he is a force to be reckoned with in the musical and biblical sense. As the 2018 Grammys are about a month away, I predict that Lamar will win at least one award if not multiple. Lamar’s album is emotionally captivating with gripping beats that are fitting to be put on repeat. With whatever credibility I have, I would recommend this album to any avid listener of Hip-Hop.

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DAMN. keeps people captivated as the Grammys get closer