It all started with The Heart Pt. 4. Kendrick had been pretty quiet since 'To Pimp A Butterfly,' aside from a few features there wasn't much new Kendrick, and then 'The Heart Pt. 4' released on March 23. On the track, Kendrick would progress through four beat changes providing some of the best verses of 2017. It was the last line of the song that unleashed hysteria, " Y'all got till April the seventh to get y'all shit together." April 7th came, and the preorder for 'DAMN' was announced. A week later, 'DAMN' officially released on the 14th. And fittingly, all we've been able to say is damn since.
The album opens up with 'BLOOD' an intro where Lamar narrates his encounter with a blind woman. The woman is struggling to find something, and Kendrick offers to help her find whatever she's lost. The woman replies by letting Kendrick know he has lost his life before shooting him. An interesting foreshadowing for the entire album. And then the album takes off.
The next song on the album is the smash 'DNA.' On 'DNA' Kendrick lets everyone know what he's made of, " I got Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA/Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA." The second verse is where Kendrick would leave his mark with another verse of the year candidate over another sick beat change. " Tell me something, you motherfuckers can't tell me nothing/ I'd rather die than to listen to you," Kendrick passionately raps as he continues his lyrical onslaught while sending shots at Fox News and anyone else trying to talk down on what he's done.
My favorite track on the album comes next in 'YAH.' 'YAH' finds Kendrick getting spiritual. The mellow, soothing beat mixed with Kendrick's baritone voice kind of hypnotizes you, preparing your mind for one of Kendrick's deepest songs. He continues his Fox News assault on this one too, going as far as calling out the Fox News reporter, Geraldo Rivera, by name. "Somebody tell Geraldo this nigga got some ambition, I'm not a politician, I'm not bout a religion."
'ELEMENT' is the next track and where Kung Fu Kenny makes his video debut. On this track, Kendrick raps about his status in the rap game and dares any of his peers to test him, " I'm willing to die for this shit, I done cried for this shit, might take a life for this shit." He makes bold claims, " If I have to slap a pussy-ass nigga, I'ma make it look sexy." and once again compares himself to 'Pac, "Mr. 1 through 5 that's the only logic, fake my death go to Cuba, that's the only option." On the outro/ third verse of 'Element,' Kendrick gets serious and ends with a clear message: Say my name and see what happens, "Most of y'all throw rocks and try to hide your hand/just say his name and I promise that you'll see Candyman."
Other standout tracks are 'LOVE,' 'LOYALTY,' 'HUMBLE,' 'GOD,' and 'DUCKWORTH.'
'LOYALTY' was the clear radio banger of the album. The song features Rihanna and Kendrick trading verses with each other about loyalty. Kendrick's masterful flow is on full display here, showing his ability to 'go pop' when he needs to.
'LOVE' might just be the best song on the album, and has a case for one of the best songs of the year. 'Love' finds Kendrick getting opening up about his personal feelings, something we rarely see from him. He raps about the love he has for this woman, presumably his fiance, asking her all the essential questions of real love. It features Zacari, who provides the best chorus on the entire album with his angelic voice. Definitely the best feature on the album.
'HUMBLE' is the biggest song of the album, well popularity wise. It was the first single debuted off the album and the visuals for it were sick. The best video of the album and might just be the best video of 2017.
Every legendary artist has an album that's undeniable. An album so good, that even their haters and detractors can't deny them anymore. Drake has 'Take Care', Kanye has 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' and that is what DAMN is for Kendrick. It is a classic. 'Damn' showed a progression in Kendrick's artistry that we didn't see in the past. Kendrick has always been a great rapper, that much is unquestionable. It was his ability as a full artist, his ability to make a complete song that was questioned and he answered the bell with songs like 'LOVE,''GOD' and 'LOYALTY.' He showed that he can still out rap anybody on songs like 'DUCKWORTH' and 'DNA.' And he stayed true to his core by still giving out conscious rap as he did on 'YAH and 'XXX.' 'DAMN' solidified Kendrick as not only the biggest rapper in the game but the biggest artist in the music industry. And that's something I thought I would never say.
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