Review: DAMN. Kendrick, Back At It Again

It’s been almost a week since Kung Fu Kenny AKA Cornrow Kenny AKA K-Dot AKA Kendrick Lamar dropped his fourth studio album, DAMN., and I’m lowkey still trying to unravel from the greatness he dropped.

For those who don’t know, I’ve been a Kendrick fan since his mixtape (O)verly (D)edicated dropped. I’m talking been a fan so much that in college I contacted Top Dawg to book him for our homecoming back in 2011 less than a month after Section.80 was released. Back then, you coulda booked him for just $10K plus travel, which shows how much he was still flying under the radar then. I had a feeling back then that he would reach the masses – even if no one else (hey fellow colleagues, y’all made the wrong decision in not booking him!) really did.

Outside of playing #SundazedVibrations Vol. 6 a couple times, I’ve listened to DAMN. non-stop since it dropped on April 14. Peep the fourteen song tracklist below available for streaming on Apple Music, Tidal and Spotify:

Since dropping DAMN., Kendrick released the visual content for ‘DNA.’ yesterday. The video, directed by Nabil & the little homies, features actor Don Cheadle. You can catch the visual here:

Now let’s get into this review…

It has taken me a while to write this review because I couldn’t easily pinpoint the delivery of this album. One thing I’ve talked about with friends about this album and Kendrick is that you never really know what you’re going to get out of him… what genre he’ll draw inspiration from… what topics he’ll talk about. There are artists like Drake and you pretty much know you’re either going to get rapping Drizzy or singing Aubrey. You can’t really say the same about Kendrick. And this is not a Drake vs. Kendrick comparison! Let that be known NOW! I’ve supported both Drake and Kendrick before they made it the masses and it’s very possible for them to both be great, at the same damn time!

It wasn’t until writing this review last night that I decided to go through his earlier work to listen to his tone. It was then I realized I couldn’t really pinpoint this delivery on DAMN. because outside of guest features on other artists song, he hasn’t come as aggressively on a complete body of work since his (O)verly (D)edicated dropped in 2010. Not to say Good Kid, M.A.A.D City or To Pimp A Butterfly wasn’t good, because they’re definitely classics but his delivery and tone was much different on those. If only comparing albums and not mixtapes, GKMC is next of kin to DAMN. DAMN. switches up the tone on songs like, ‘Loyalty’ featuring everyone’s favorite bad gal, Rihanna and ‘Love’ featuring newcomer Zacari, which happen to be two of the three features on the album.

The production and compilation of DAMN. was great and although some might have not realized it, the album weaves in a story and ends with the album going in reverse and the same line Kendrick started the album with, “So I was taking a walk the other day…” I realized this on the second listen and thought it was genius! Speaking of genius, the homies over at Genius came through, as they always do, and provided every sample on DAMN., which you can watch here. The album tells a journey of fate and becoming of self, which can be best showcased in his detailing on the song ‘Duckworth’, which is his last name. Bringing producer Mike WiLL Made-It on three tracks, the album is able sit alongside today’s modern hip-hop/rap albums sonically. He also taps the legendary The Alchemist for the song ‘Fear’ which highlights the terror at the ages of 7, 17 and 27–27 being the age in which he dropped To Pimp A Butterfly. I really enjoyed this album and the fact that I’m able to listen to it from being to end without skipping. The only thing I’m left wanting on the album is a Drake or Big Sean feature so the internet can stop this imaginary beef!

All in all, I’m ready for a tour from Kung Fu Kenny. Which I was reflecting on the other day and outside of festivals and random shows, Kendrick hasn’t been on a tour since GKMC dropped. A DAMN. tour would be super lit, but if he doesn’t tour I’m more than satisfied that I’ve got to see him perform at least three times, two of which being the past two years at ESSENCE Festival. Until then…

Favorite Songs:

DNA., LOYALTY., HUMBLE., LOVE., GOD.

Notable Lyrics:

“Leave him in the wilderness/with a sworn nemesis, he’ll make it” –XXX.

“All this money, is God playin’ a joke on me?/Is it for the moment, and will he see me as Job?/Take it from me and leave me worse than I was before?/At 27, my biggest fear was losin it all” –FEAR.

“Everything in life is a gamble/Nothin’ in life I can’t handle/Seen it all, done it all, felt pain more” –GOD.

Repeat Value:

5/5

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