So after two previewed tracks, of which only one made the album, and a delayed release, Kendrick Lamar has finally dropped his fourth studio album DAMN. This has, in our opinion, been the most talked about album release this year, even more so than Stormzy’s “Gang Signs & Prayers” and Drake’s “More Life.” The promotional campaign for this record has been almost singlehandedly created and driven by social media and Kendricks fan base, all he did was drop two tunes in the space of a week, created one of the most interesting music videos we’ve ever seen, dropped a few hints, fired a few shots and left the rest up to us. No adverts, no billboards, just the power of the music, he didn’t even release the name of the album until two days before the drop date.
We’ve noticed a more melodic focus on this record, more singing, a few features and less aggressive, drum driven beats, but that’s not to say there isn’t the real Kendrick running throughout the album. The welcomed addition of Rihanna and relatively unknown artist Zacari adds a beautiful contrast to the raw emotion of Kendrick’s voice and words and we feel both tracks create a refreshing break in the album.
There has been much discussion surrounding the album artwork, it’s simplicity and the progression from his first mixtape “The Kendrick Lamar EP” which features a candid Kendrick writing in what we can only assume is a songbook, to the passive aggressive stance and stare down on DAMN. Our simple thoughts on it are that it’s striking and a true reflection of the collection of work it fronts. In keeping with the pre-release promo, the internet did its thing and has churned out countless memes of this album cover. Now, if Kendrick and TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment, the label Kendrick is signed to) predicted this and purposely factored this into their decisions, then hats off to them, but we find it very hard to believe that they could’ve foreseen this level of free advertisement.
BLOOD is the opening track on the record and sort of acts as an intro, coming in at 1:58 and is made up of news reports and Kendrick spoken word, it’s clear that this is a stepping stone into the album…and it’s absolutely class. For us though, the biggest thing we’ve taken away is Zacari’s voice, man that boy can sing! Beyoncé once said that Sam Smith’s voice was “like melting butter” and this is the exact feeling we get off Zacari, particularly on his falsetto (when he sings high), his control and natural comfort in that range is unbelievable.
Again, our ideal album length is 12 tracks and we really do feel this DAMN could’ve been cut down to 12. PRIDE & FEAR are in keeping with the feel of the album for sure, but they just didn’t do it for us like the rest of the album did. We’d be the first to admit that if all 14 tracks were fire, then the album was meant to be 14 tracks long. However, in this instance, we truly feel that neither would be greatly missed.
Overall we’re stoked that this record has dropped and it has definitely lived up to the hype, all we can say is, good luck to anyone else dropping new music this weekend. However, if this proposed fan theory comes through, we don’t know what’s going to happen, it could be a legit *mind blown* situation! Consider us on the edge of our seats…
Artwork: It’s bold and does what it says on the tin.
Favourite track: LOVE FEAT ZACARI, that voice is golden.