KENDRICK IS BACK. His fourth studio album ‘DAMN.’ dropped on April 14th leaving the hip-hop world in awe. Consisting of 14 tracks, ‘DAMN.’ sees Kendrick strip back the BS and take a straight forward approach, creating a classic hip-hop feel with the emphasis being on lyricism and storytelling.
The album puts various political and social issues under the microscope from racism to the presidential election, as well as highlighting Kendrick’s personal struggles throughout his life. The first two tracks ‘BLOOD.‘ and ‘DNA.‘ see Kendrick let out a wave of aggression as he hits back at mainstream media outlets for their ignorance in the criticism of his lyrics.
Fox’s News’ Geraldo Rivera is the main target with a clip of his statement “This is why I say hip-hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism over the years.” included within the track.
In contrast ‘ELEMENT.’ and ‘FEEL.’ are very much centred on how the world looks through the eyes of Kendrick and how he perceives himself. Accompanied by measured old school hip-hop beats, Kendrick’s lyrics are delivered with perfection and a precise flow. The entire album feels like an hour long (and extremely enjoyable) session of therapy with Kendrick, as he leaves no topic unaddressed, anything that’s been on his mind has been put into this album, giving it an undeniably raw and gritty edge.
The second last track on the album, ‘FEAR.’ encapsulates the therapy session vibe, with Kendrick taking you on a journey through his childhood, his teens and into his present, describing everything he’s feared throughout his life. The track begins by addressing what you can only assume is Kendrick’s abusive upbringing, with him quoting “7 years old, you think you run this house by yourself? Nigga you gon’ fear me if you fear no one else.”
Kendrick then takes you into his teenage years, at 17 years old fearing death in the streets of Compton, be it from gang violence or police brutality. He highlights the fragility of life growing up in these poor areas where stepping one foot wrong could result with a bullet in your head.
Finally, the track brings you into the present, with Kendrick revealing what he fears most now is losing everything that his career has brought him and ending up back to square one with no hope. This track, much like the entire album, is masterfully produced with thought provoking lyrics, a refreshing change from a genre where lyricism seems to be progressively taking a back seat.
‘DAMN.’ is one of those special albums that transports you to another place, after listening you feel like you’ve walked a mile in Kendrick’s shoes, a tough mile no doubt but an incredible one. ‘DAMN.’ can only be described as pure hip-hop, classic hip-hop, an album that will no question stand the test of time. KENDRICK IS BACK.
LOYALTY. FT. RIHANNA.
XXX. FT. U2.
Words by J.Ramsay