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Kendrick Lamar Does It Again With New Album “DAMN.”

From guest surprises and experimentation, Filip Dimitrovski explains the new, album from Lamar.

courtesy+of%3A+prettymuchamazing.com
courtesy of: prettymuchamazing.com

courtesy of: prettymuchamazing.com

courtesy of: prettymuchamazing.com

Filip Dimitrovski, Staff Writer

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The most vibrantly consistent name in hip-hop today is back at it again with a full-length album following the release of his critically acclaimed 2015 release, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Since then, however, Kendrick Lamar has still been very active, dropping a B-sides album entitled, “Untitled. Unmastered..” Lamar is also seen featuring on a myriad of other songs by artists including Beyonce, Danny Brown, DJ Khaled and Travi$ Scott. The anticipation for his album was massive amongst fans based off the two singles he released just weeks before the album was on shelves.

Lamar is no stranger of taking experimental changes in his discography. He has changed up his style in every commercial release thus far, and the same goes for his most recent release. In “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Lamar took the term “jazz rap” to a more literal sense. There, he utilized live jazz instrumentation in his production, but strayed away from that sound in DAMN.. Inspired by the Memphis rap scene, the production and overall sound heard on DAMN. is much grittier and muddier, than what people have heard from Lamar. The album features a lineup of trap producers, and they pose a heavy influence of southern hip-hop with their flavored high-hats and pounding, street vibe.

Another major change in DAMN., that listeners haven’t heard from him on a commercial album, was a more subtle conceptual focus. His two previous albums, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” and “To Pimp a Butterfly,” both featured a heavy involvement of skits and interludes that build a story within the albums. Without those skits, the concept within those albums wouldn’t be nearly as dense and vivid as they were.

Lamar takes the approach of running with a minimalistic concept that weaves through the album. Unlike in previous albums, that approach is not solely focused on skits and interludes, but moreso by presenting it within the tracks. The overall concept of the album is still up for discussion because it isn’t put forward as much as his recent releases. Based on what is given, it seems as if this is a story where he is killed by a blind woman in the opening track “BLOOD..”

The track listing suggests that the album takes a trip through the perception of him and his musical career by others, performed by him. The last track of the album, “DUCKWORTH.,” ends by reversing the entire album and ending it with the exact same words from a monologue the album began with. This is causing listeners everywhere to wonder if the album is one big loop.

The album only has two features, and they’re from Rihanna and U2 on the tracks “LOYALTY.” and “XXX.” respectively. The U2 feature was surprising to say the least because he incorporated a pop-rock band that has been on a large musical downfall in what was not only one of the grittiest songs on the album, but one of the best too. This just solidifies the idea that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most creative minds in music today.

DAMN., although experimental and fresh, does not shy away from Lamar’s roots on a technical level. The album is extremely well written and technically-sound. Although this is the first album from Lamar that fans universally don’t enjoy, many find that it grows with the listener the more times it’s heard. Kendrick Lamar continues to prove that he is not only one of the best creative minds in hip-hop today, but in music overall. DAMN. should be cherished for what it is: an amazing album.

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William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper
Kendrick Lamar Does It Again With New Album “DAMN.”