Is it possible that one of the greatest rappers alive can give us another classic album on top of good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp a Butterfly? That is apparent with Kendrick Lamar's latest classic DAMN. With the first single, "HUBMLE.", Lamar gave us a hint of what to expect with from his new record. Demanding at the beginning of the track that "Nobody pray for me / It's been that day for me" before the three-note piano and heavy-bass beat drops, compliments of Mike WiLL Made It.
m.A.A.d city was considered a "short film" and DAMN. is reminiscent of that same vibe. It tells a detailed story from beginning to end, but it also tells a different story when you listen to it in reverse order. Listening to it in its regular order, Lamar initially gives into weakness and wickedness and as the album progresses, with a huge help from God, he eventually reaches success and enlightenment. On the flip side, he tells the story of being at the peak of happiness, but loses his way and spirals into a damned life that ends in death. The album is meticulously crafted and each song supports one another no matter what order you listen to it.
It's tough to pick one standout track because, honestly, they're all strong contenders. For a rapper to have a superb album with only three features is a major feat. It's not too long, not too short, it's the perfect length for a storyteller, which is what Lamar really is at his core. "DNA." is peak K. Dot delivering bar after bar, barely taking a breath. "XXX." could have been a flop with a U2 feature, but it shines as he discusses morals and world violence. "LOYALTY." gives us Rihanna rapping (a good thing!) and the use of Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" in reverse as the sample is so genius that it probably made all other relevant producers jealous with rage. "LOVE." is also a groovy summer jam that introduces us to newcomer Zacari whose falsettos pair nicely with Lamar's laidback, lazy attempt at singing.
Give DAMN. another year to sizzle and soak in and bet on it to be nominated for a plethora of Grammys in 2018. This may be K. Dot at his peak and we just have to hope that he's truly going forward instead of reverse. ★★★★★
Key Tracks: "XXX." / "DNA." / "LOVE."
★★★★★ Classic | ★★★★ Great | ★★★ Good | ★★ Fair | ★ Poor