BRAND NEW KUNG FU KENNY!

On April 14th Kendrick Lamar released his 4th studio album titled DAMN. A little over 2 years after the release of his culture shifting To Pimp a Butterfly Kendrick showed up with the same energy. DAMN. is very critical and intense from the beginning to end. The production on DAMN. is astounding and comes an array of producers including: Top Dawg, Mike WiLL Made-It, Cardo, The Alchemist, Bekon, Sounwave, DJ Dahi, 9th Wonder and others. He places only 3 features from Rihanna, U2, and Zacari but has additional vocals from Bekon, Kid Capri, Chelsea Blythe, DJ Dahi, Kaytranada, Rat Boy, Anna Wise, Steve Lacy and others.

The intro “BLOOD.” is Kendrick attempting to help a blind woman find something she dropped on the sidewalk. When he approaches her he says, “Hello, ma’am, can I be of any assistance? It seems to me that you have lost something. I would like to help you find it.” She replied: “Oh yes, you have lost something. You’ve lost… your life” then shot Kendrick immediately afterward. It was absolutely chilling on the initial listen.

This album is centralized around the theme of life and death. Later on “ELEMENT.” Kid Capri states, “Y’all know what happens on Earth stays on Earth.” Capri has admitted that he never asked Kendrick what it meant but my interpretation of it is that once you die anything that has happened to you or anything that you’ve done, whether it be good, bad or ugly, does not follow you into the afterlife. Once you die you leave everything behind.

On “FEAR.” Kendrick touches on it by saying, “Fear, what happens on Earth stays on Earth/ And I can’t take these feelings with me/ So hopefully they disperse.” These feelings that he talks about could be the fear throughout the song, the other feelings throughout the album or his feelings to change the world, all of which would be left on Earth after his death.

Throughout DAMN. Kendrick repeats “Ain’t nobody prayin for me.” I believe he feels this way for 2 reasons. The first being he says on “ELEMENT.,” “Bitch all my grandmas dead/ So ain’t nobody prayin for me, I’m on your head, ayy.” Kendrick’s family is a very big part of his music. He’s explained before that after his grandma died the family basically grew apart and went their separate ways. His grandma (as most are) was the centerpiece of the family so once she passed he felt since no one really cared anymore she was the only one praying. “FEEL.” goes deeper into this with the lines, “I feel like the whole world want me to pray for ’em/ But who the fuck prayin’ for me?” It’s obvious Kendrick is frustrated with people always asking for something when he gets nothing in return.

Secondly, I believe Kenny feels this way because on “PRIDE.” He says, “I don’t trust people enough beyond they surface, world/ I don’t love people enough to put my faith in men/ I put my faith in these lyrics, hoping I make amend.” He doesn’t trust anyone deeper than what they show on the outside. A lot of people talk but don’t mean what they say. In a world of fake Christians who claim they pray for others but don’t and even pray against others, I don’t blame Kendrick.

Along with the themes of life, death and prayer, trust is another theme in DAMN. In the midst of the chorus on “LOYALTY.” Kendrick and Rihanna express some distrust by saying, “10-4, no switchin’ sides/ Feel somethin’ wrong/ You actin’ shifty, you don’t ride/ With me no more, I need/ Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty.” Their intuition is telling them that the person they have high regards for doesn’t seem to be on the same page as them. Trust is important to K-Dot because, as previously stated, he doesn’t even trust his listeners enough to pray for him.

In the chorus for “LOVE.” Kendrick (with help from Zacari) is questioning whether or not her love is unconditional. Afterwards he explains that her trust would mean more to him than her love.

“If I didn’t ride blade on curb, would you still love me?/ If I minimized my net worth, would you still love me?/ Keep it a hundred, I’d rather you trust me than to love me/ Keep it a whole one hund’: don’t got you, I got nothin’.”

“DUCKWORTH.”

This absolutely one of Kendrick’s best story telling songs. Very reminiscent of good kid, m.A.A.d city. He tells the gripping story of how his manager and executive producer Top Dawg (Anthony) and his father (Ducky) met. In classic Compton fashion Anthony was a gangster that planned to rob the KFC that Ducky worked at. Smartly, Ducky gave him free chicken and extra biscuits and in return Anthony spared his life. Without Ducky playing the situation the way he did he would’ve been killed with his coworkers and there would be no Kendrick or TDE, leaving a gaping hole in today’s hip-hop scene.

DAMN. easily receives a 9.7/10 being the best album I’ve reviewed this year.

About The Author

I’m 20 years old coming from Atlanta and attending the University of Alabama. For the magazine I’m a music writer but in general I’m a writer, producer, and designer. With my writing I want to spread to others the wonders of hip-hop culture. Follow me on Twitter @28Wavy for new music and updates.

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