New SOTBMusic: @kendricklamar – DAMN.

Earlier in the week, I offered up five things that I wanted from Kendrick Lamar’s then-upcoming DAMN. album. Well, today is judgment day. DAMN. is finally a thing. So, did the album deliver or was it always destined to be overhyped? Let’s get into the project.
I’ve listened through this album several times since it dropped this morning. Therefore, this isn’t just some hot take, one-listen review. I know people love those. And they do have their place. But, this isn’t one of those.

Now, with that said, the album is intricate as hell. DAMN. is a concept album disguised as a collection of tracks with slightly overarching themes. The project, for me, tells the story of a man who’s seen a lot and experienced a lot and now wonders about his place in life. Is he really the “legendary hip-hop rhyme savior” or is he also falling victim to the “LUST.” in the world, hip-hop and otherwise? He battles duality in the game, akin to his lyrics in TPAB, but now armed with even heavier beats.

Through 14 tracks (and few features), Mr. Kendrick Lamar Duckworth asks who prays for him (even though he prays for the world) and asks us to remember that what happens on Earth stays on Earth. If we’re going out here doing dirt, that dirt will live on and potentially damage those who follow. If you live with some sort of righteousness, that righteousness will live on. But, ultimately, once we’re dead, we’re dead. Our legacy is what remains. So, Kendrick Lamar, in the end, turns the question back on us: are we saints, sinners, or a combination of the two? And regardless of where we lie, what will our legacy be?
Sonically, the vibe of the album is a combination of trunk rattlers and introspective bars. These elements mix in a way that is similar to Lupe Fiasco’s DROGAS Light, but less “I’m just gonna have fun with this” and more “I’m going to spill my soul with this,” throwing in elements of Black Power and Israelite teachings into the mix. This creates an album that is, again, reflective of the journey of man and the journey of a Black man in America trying to find his place.

The album doesn’t waste time on spitting bars at naysayers and those who “smile in his face, all while they tryna take [his] place” and whatnot. He, instead, lets the bars speak. And those bars, my friends, are heavy as hell. While I’m still not a super fan of his take on “HUMBLE.,” the rest of the album casts any notions aside that DAMN. would be just an alternative take on trap music.

If the head who wears the crown is heavy, then Kendrick’s neck must be damn near about to snap. It may be a bit early to proclaim this album of the year. However, I feel that other projects that drop this year will have a lot of ground to make up to even come close to DAMN.
Final Verdict: Buy
Speed on the Beat

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