What I've Learned from Kendrick Lamar's DAMN (So Far)
Thanks to my favorite rapper Kendrick Lamar & the anticipated release of his 4th album Damn, April 14th has officially became a national hip-hop holiday. I cannot tell enough how happy I am to see everybody celebrating this release. From social media to riding around in Atlanta hearing the album blasting through a variety of different car speakers. It’s feels like yesterday when he just came out as the fresh new face with Overly Dedicated & was performing only in smaller intimate venues. Now Kung Fu Kenny has graduated to high profiled concert sets such as Coachella, Festivals, & Hot 97 Summer jam stage. The momentum he’s been creating so far has been beyond impeccable. He first released his album Friday. Then he performed cuts from the new album along with some classic cuts off on Sunday evening for Coachella all while bringing out special guests Schoolboy Q, Travis Scott, & Future. And then not to mention on Tuesday April 18th, he decided to debut hismusic visual from DNA, starring himself along with actor Don Cheadle & Schoolboy Q. If you didn’t get hype when Don showed off his rapping hands while rapping Kendrick’s first verse, then there’s nothing for us to discuss. I can’t wait to look back at all of these moments 10 years & see how impactful it was. You best believe my kids going to know who Kendrick Lamar is. Even though Damn has only been out for almost a week now, the amount of rave reviews i’ve seen were second to none. I hardly saw anything negative said about the album. You know an album is really fire when you even have people who don’t really even rock with Kendrick music like that bumping it as if they’ve been day ones. Damn is really an incredible piece of work that gets better after each album spin. It’s bpast the point where tweeters are already calling this album a classic. I live for moments like this when rappers start creating conversations amongst hip-hop fans. I can’t tell you the amount of reviews, debates and think pieces I’ve came across within the week just off the strength of this new album. Ive gotten some real fresh perspectives of the album so far. While I’m still listening, digesting, & enjoying this album as a whole, there’s quite a bit that I learned about this album, whether it applied to the music, Kendrick, or life in general. These are my current thoughts so far.
God plays a major role in the album.
If you’ve followed Kendrick’s career, then you would know that he’s never been shy of making references to his faith of christianity throughout his music. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that God really plays a major on the album throughout the different themes we across on racks such as Pride, Love, Lust, Humble, DNA Fear, etc. Kendrick raps on PRIDE about his difficulties on putting faith in people & discusseshow the “perfect world” should be. Coincidently this can be matched up towards the story about Adam & Eve in regarding the garden of Eden. Fear is a real great example in its usage with spreading God’s message. In the beginning of the song, Kendrick receives a voicemail from his cousin, Carl Duckworth. In the voice message, Carl reads out Deuteronomy 27 & 28, where it specifically discusses how the blessing & curses of breaking the laws of Moses have affected the people of today. He then breaks down 3 different time periods of fear—age 7 in regarding fear of his mother, age 17 in regarding fear of death being around the corner, & age 27 in regarding fear of his his fame & fortunes. At the end of the song, Carl says that the blacks, hispanics, & native Americans are considered to be the true Israelites, according to the Bible & that until we all come back to the laws, statues, & commandments of what God tells us to obey, we will remain at a lower state of our current life we live in today. There’s an editorial that was created by Yoh, one of the main contributors to DJBooth.net (which is a great site for different opinions on the hip-hop culture) that dives so much deeper into this topic. Here’s the link to check it out.
Reminder of the concept of“Reaping what you sew."
The final track, Duckworth, is a story for the works. As Kendrick was rapping on 9th Wonder’s beat, he was telling thestory about an incident that took place between Anthony “Top Dawg”Tiffith & Kendrick’s Father, Ducky back either when before Kendrick was born or when he was a baby. Anthony was planning to rob the KFC where Ducky worked at. He was aware of what was going on happen due to a previous robbing incident so he took matters into his own hand & worked to get on their good side by giving them extra food. Anthony liked him & decided to spare his life. Because of that gesture, that one decision changed both of their lives at the moment. 20 years later they would meet again in the studio thanks to Kendrick. He truly had it correct when he said in the song, :”Life is one funny mothafucka. A true comedian you gotta love him, you gotta trust him.” Kendrick hinted if it wasn’t for Top Dawg sparring Ducky’s life, then he probably would be in jail, TDE would cease to exists, & Kendrick would’ve been raised without his dad only to end up as another lost product of Compton, where he may possibly die in a gunfight. When you think about it, Life really is funny like that. There’s always some kind of test going on that he puts you in & its up to you to determine your fate based off what decision you make. The smallest decision you make can play a big impact in your life drastically. .”God truly has a sense of humor when it comes to certain situations at hand. When you think about it, its really something how the certain decision you make at any given point in your life can affect so you so much in the long run. The moral of the study is be mindful of the decision you make because you never know hoe a small decision can affect your life in a major way.
The hype of Drama creating an fire 2nd album theory concept that never came to life.
Imagine making such an incredible album with a concept to match all of sudden creates hype that a supposedsecond album is bound for release on Easter Sunday to follow up. That’s exactly what happened right after the album got leaked. Sounwave then tweeted not too long after the leak saying , “What If I told you thats not the official version” & proceeded to post a picture of morpheus from The Matrix on the timeline. Right after that was when the fans came up with some real crazy theories about a second album that was coming out on Easter Sunday. On the picture of Morpheus if you looked closer to his eyes, you would see the red pill & blue pill in each hand. It was said that Damn is considered the Red Pill, whereas Kendrick dies in the album when he attempted to help an old blind lady who just so happens to possibly be Lucy aka Satan. Now with the blue pill, this supposed next album was called “Nation” where this would supposedly say Kendrick is resurrected like how Jesus was 3 days later on Easter Sunday. Other theories said that on the cover of Damn, that the cover could represent the Devils Horns above Kendrick head whereas Nation, the O would serve as representing a Halo about Kendrick’s head. There was other theories that came into play in the role of the album. Needless to say, this idea was completely shut down by Sounwave once he clarified what he said about the album. Me personally I didn’t buy into the whole theory of a 2nd album. It sounded way too good to be true & plus, no tweets came from Top Dawg in regarding there being a 2nd album. Plus there’s so many layers built into the album that you really need to pay attention to , even with the album being much easier listen.
Kendrick solidified his spot as a potential Top 5 of all time rapper.
Remember those conversations we used to have few years back when people said it was too early to crown Kendrick as the best & to give him some “Time”? Well after dropping Damn, that whole idea for me went out the window. Just when I started to question if he could outdo To Pimp a Butterfly, this little 5-foot monster proved me wrong. Even though i feel like Kendrick already was top tier in my eyes after he dropped TPAB, it feels like Damn is that album that will truly solidify his moment to superstardom. Everything he’s been doing has been right so far; from the singles to his album dropping to Coachella & to the incredible visuals dropping so far (Humble & DNA) , it’sfeels like all the dots for him are connecting. You can sense the confidence in his voice as you listen to different tracks such as DNA, Element, Pride, etc. He’s earned his spot as the best rapper of my generation.He’s literally set the standard to absurd heights every time he releases new material. If you’re a Day one Kendrick Lamar fan, it’s a beautiful thing to witness the progression. You can just look at Kendrick & tell that he was made for this writing shit. He started off with his first mixtape in 2003 with his Hubb City mixtape and grinded tit out until Overly Dedicated & Section 80. After that Good Kidd, Madd City was dropped er’ve reached to the point we’re at today. What’s so great about this is that Kendrick still remains true to himself by not letting the fame & fortune get to him. It’s getting to that point now whether it’s time to debate whether or not to allow him at the same table along with the GOATs such Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Biggie, 2Pac, Ice Cube, Kanye, etc. . There’s not too many rappers out there who can really drop 3-4 albums back to back & all of them be classics. Now Im not for one to say Damn is a classic (Yet) but I will say it is a very incredible album that will getting major burn for quite awhile. More than likely the rest of the year & so forth. Kendrick is a special kind of rapper. We don’t get this type rappers that often. Its best that we can take advantage of the good time we have on earth & give props when they’re due.
Kendrick is capable of making hit records.
I think we can agree it's time to put to rest the notion that Kendrick cannot make hit records. Some folks in the hip-hop head/industry twitter world have this thing where they attempt to argue that Kendrick can’t make a hit record to get spins in the club. I never understood why this was even an argument to begin with. Kendrick’s never been one to make nor chase a hit record for the club. Plus, he can make hit records but It’s doesn’t sound like every other song on radio He got records such as Alright, M.a.d.d. City, Backseat Freestyle, & Fuckin Problem that got consistent spins in types of parties. But there’s no longer a need to defend this seeing that soon these same people are going to get sick of constantly radio spins of the new records off the album such as Humble, Loyalty, & Love. Oh & you can definitely count on these records getting spins at all parties this coming summer.
As I wrap my current thoughts up, Im still currently digesting this album. I see plenty of reasons why people would want to call it a classic and I understand it (believe me I’m bias towards Kendrick in most cases). However, I still feel as a hip-hop fan that we need to give projects like this some time. A lot of us are still in that honeymoon stage of “Damn I really can’t believe kendrick dropped another fire ass album. I know I am for a fact & it may take a sec to get out of that . But still. You gotta live with projectslike Damn during your time living to determine the proper setting. But as for now, lets all setback & watch King Kendrick do his work.