Kendrick Lamar’s album shocks listeners and charts

Jack Nicholson, Reporter

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Damn. The singular word said out loud as the ending track of Kendrick Lamar’s new album, DAMN., was coming to a close. Pure shock and awe was felt throughout the content of 55 minutes which whizzed by like nothing. This album is a different take on what many fans of Kendrick Lamar may be used to. However, with every new album, Kendrick completely transforms into a newly evolved version of his previous self. He creates new sounds on every album that don’t repeat nor match the rest of his music while simultaneously composing new ideas and messages throughout each album.

Now, to the album.

DAMN. begins with an interlude mixture of song and storytelling, “BLOOD.” A unique play on words and the general theme of the album, discussing ideas of “wickedness” or “weakness”. Beautiful tones appear out of nowhere and this voice is extremely gospel-like and swallows yourself in sound.

Directly after the songs echoing voice it transitions to Kendrick describing a story of a blind woman and his encounter with her. After his confrontation, he ends up being killed (metaphorically) on the first track, kicking off the album with confusion, wonder, and mystique to listen for what’s to come.

Song number two: “DNA.” This bass heavy song is a tribute to Lamar himself and a showcase of his verbal mastery. He describes what “is in his DNA” and what is part of him today. “I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA.”

These words are part of the memorable chorus that makes up the whole of “DNA.” Analyzing the track deeper reveals that not only it’s what creates Kendrick today standing, but also his contradictions for emotions and desires.

It really is an emotional rollercoaster of a song that just has it’s speed set on maximum the whole way through. No doubt the most epic part of the rap is about halfway through, and it’s an incredible surprise for the listener that just makes one’s skin stand up.

Discussing negatives of this album does blur the line of confusion between both extremely next level Kendrick while also appealing to more radio hit songs. I would say about half of the album is more of Kendrick exploring new boundaries of the rap genre and exposing elements of gospel, jazz and r&b. While the other portion sounds more like Drake’s style and tone of music.

Analyzing the cover front to back and constantly reading upon mysterious theories, interpretations and meanings led me to content feeling about the album. DAMN. is two albums, in one collection.

A reddit post created by, u/ntgbox, explains how the album is a dichotomy between the beginning of the album, stating, “Is it wickedness? Is it weakness? You decide.” Two options, salvation or damnation, thus creating two albums.

This theory really expands on the order of and names of each track, explaining that if you listen to the album in order from 2-4-6-8-10-12-14. You get a whole album discussing ideas of being “saved” and not submitting to temptation, which leads to Kendrick being alive today.

In comparison to the damned man, being in order from 13-11-9-7-5-3-1. A reverse order from the first “album” and has the opposite story.

Kendrick has large shoes to fill after, good kid, m.A.A.d city, and, To Pimp a Butterfly, being recognized as rap and pop classics of the decade. DAMN. gives his best shot to less of a personal storytelling production to more ideals and fictional stories being told in comparison to much more of his personal experiences Kendrick himself has had with the law, friends, and family.

As badly as everyone wanted this to be the trifecta of greatness, I think it might have to rely on another album. While the album is a great collection of music, it doesn’t necessarily match the level of complexity and integrity that the other two albums brought along.

However, this is far from saying the album was bad. It is one of my favorite albums overall this year! Discussing ideas of the election and how it can affect everyone really places a role for an interest, along with battles everyone is facing and even conflictions of where life can take one another.
DAMN. truly is the title that Kendrick’s new album deserves. DAMN. is the word uttered upon listening to both the first and final song. DAMN., the embodying word of an album from the artist who’s made his mark yet again.

Final Verdict- 8/10

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Kendrick Lamar’s album shocks listeners and charts