Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’ is beyond good
Kendrick Lamar’s third major-label album, “DAMN.,” proves that he’s light-years above the competition, and it might not even be his best work.
“DAMN.” is beyond good. It’s not even just next-level work. It’s three levels past next level.
It may be pre-emptive to label the work a classic, but the album’s impact in Lamar’s catalog is similar to “Graduation” by Kanye and “Tha Carter III” by Lil Wayne.
In stark contrast to his sophomore album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” “DAMN.” is more palatable for casual fans who are eager for an easy listen.
The minimalist approach of the album artwork is a false indicator of a minimalist sound on the album. Instead, the tracks ebb and flow from complicated to simple.
At this point in his career there really wasn’t much left for Lamar to prove. Yet, this album is ambitious in its ability to appeal to a wide audience.
Tracks like “LOYALTY.” featuring Rihanna, “DNA.,” “ELEMENT.” and “LOVE.” will be sure to attract new fans without alienating his current fan base.
In addition, Lamar expanded on some of the musical styles that he introduced on TPAB.
The album has many sounds, and it fully indulges in each of those sounds.
Tracks like “FEAR.,” and “FEEL.” are examples of Lamar’s traditional, lyric-oriented approach to hip-hop.
From start to finish, the soundscape of those songs remains consistent.
However, on tracks like “XXX.” and “DNA.,” the music wildly transforms mid-song, leaving you on your toes trying to anticipate how the song will continue to evolve.
It’s this type of experimentation that makes art amazing.
This album isn’t a re-introduction to Lamar. Instead it’s a re-invention of Lamar.
It’s a process we have seen multiple times before. The sonic unpredictable sound is coupled with the consistency in quality control which combines to form an awesome experience.
“DAMN.” might not be better than the previous two albums, but that’s mostly because it’s just so different.
It is not entirely a conceptual album like it’s predecessors, but there are conceptual songs.
In fact, the album ends with Lamar telling the story about how the founder of his label almost shot and killed Lamar’s father he Lamar was five-years-old.
This album is not Lamar’s bid at being the greatest rapper of this generation.
It’s the most recent addition to his resume as he makes his case for being the greatest rapper of all time.