What can we expect from DAMN.? Will Van Dalsem April 13, 2017 Music 310 Tweet Share1 Share Email WhatsAppShares 1On Tuesday, Kendrick Lamar officially released the album art and track list for his upcoming fourth studio album, DAMN. Given that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most elusive, mysterious rappers in the game right now, I have no idea what to expect from this forthcoming project, set to release on Friday. But I’m going to make a (somewhat) educated guess. On March 30, Kendrick and Top Dawg Entertainment dropped DAMN.’s lead single, “HUMBLE.”, with an accompanying music video. The track’s instrumental, produced by Mike-Will-Made-It, is a simplistic, pop-trap banger. Kendrick’s bars are less lyrically dense than those on To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), his last full-length studio project, but he still made a memorable statement about over-braggadocios mainstream rappers. Production creds from the likes of DJ Dahi and Mike-Will-Made-It, as well as features from Rihanna and U2 (yes, that U2) suggest that Kendrick’s new music will be taking more of a straightforward, trendy, pop rap approach. In March, hip-hop producer Syk Sense even referred to Kendrick’s new music as “some of the hardest shit I’ve heard”. Taking all this information into account, DAMN. seems to be a drastic departure from the experimental, psychedelic, neo-jazz sounds of To Pimp A Butterfly. However, the album also features production from TPAB contributors such as Sounwave and Terrace Martin, as well as jazz-rap dabblers 9th Wonder and BADBADNOTGOOD. On Kendrick’s “Black Friday” track, he did mention that he “merged jazz fusion with the trap music”, so maybe DAMN. is the more pronounced form of that combination. Now, Kendrick’s last three full-length releases (Section.80, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, and To Pimp A Butterfly) have all been highly cohesive, conceptual projects. Can we expect a concept album from DAMN.? I think so. In an interview with The New York Times Style Magazine, Kendrick said “To Pimp a Butterfly was addressing the problem. I’m in a space now where I’m not addressing the problem anymore. We’re in a time where we exclude one major component out of this whole thing called life: God.” Could this be Kendrick’s religious album? Maybe, as one of the album’s song is titled “GOD.”, preceded by a track called “FEAR.”. However, I think DAMN. will be more than just an album about Kendrick’s faith. The song titles suggest that this album’s themes will be incredibly varied, touching upon everything from drugs to family. Kendrick seems to be addressing dichotomies on this record, as the track “PRIDE.” is followed by “HUMBLE.” and the song “LOVE.” precedes “LUST.”. The order of the tracks appears to be strategically placed—just another reason to believe Kendrick has cooked up something heavily thematic. So, what can we expect from DAMN.? If I had to guess, I would say a deeply conceptual album of pop-trap-jazz bangers. But to be honest, I have no idea what Kendrick will do on DAMN. He has been known to throw curveballs before. Maybe he’ll do it again. Either way, we only have to wait a few hours to find out.